The Life of John MOLONY
a Highwayman and Street Robber
John Molony was an Irishman likewise, born at Dublin and sent to sea when very young. He served in the fleets which during the late Queen's reign sailed into the Mediterranean, and happening to be on board a ship which was lost, he with some other sailors, was called to a very strict account for that misfortune, upon some presumption that they were accessory thereto. Afterwards he sailed in a vessel of war which was fitted out against the pirates, and had therein so good luck that if his inclinations had been honest, he might certainly have settled very handsomely in the world. But that was far from his intention; he liked a seaman's pleasures, drinking and gaming, and when on shore, lewd women, the certain methods of being brought to such ways of getting money as end in a shameful death.
When abroad, his adventures were not many, because he had little opportunity of going on shore, yet one happened in Sicily which made a very great impression upon him, and which it may not therefore be improper to relate. There were two merchants at Palermo, both young men, and perfectly skilled in the arts of traffic; they had had a very liberal education, and had been constant friends and companions together. The intimacy they had so long continued was cemented by their marriage with two sisters. They lived very happily for the space of about two years, and in all probability might have continued to do so much longer, had not the duenna who attended one of their wives, died, and a new one been put in her place. Not knowing the young ladies' brothers, upon their speaking to them at Church, she gave notice of it to the husband of her whom she attended, and he immediately posting to his neighbour, the woman told them both that their wives, notwithstanding all she could say, were talking to two well-dressed cavaliers, which the duenna who waited on the other, notwithstanding the duties of her post, saw without taking any notice. This so exasperated the jealousy of the Sicilians that without more ado they ran to the church, and meeting with their spouses coming out from thence with an air of gaiety, seized them, and stabbed them dead with a little dagger, which for that purpose each had concealed under his coat. Then flying into the church for sanctuary, they discovered their mistake, when one of them, seized with fury at the loss of a wife of whom he was so extravagantly fond, stabbed the other, though not mortally, and with many repeated wounds murdered the duenna, whose rash error had been the occasion of spilling so much blood.
Upon Molony's return to England, he was totally out of all business, and minded nothing but haunting the gaming tables, living on the charity of his fortunate countrymen when his luck was bad, and relieving them, in turn, when he had a favourable run at dice. It was at one of these houses that he became acquainted with Carrick, and the likeness of their tempers creating a great intimacy, after a short knowledge of one another they joined with Carrol, a fellow as wicked as themselves, but much more cruel, and were all concerned in that robbery for which Carrick and Molony died.
When these two criminals came to be tried at the Old Bailey, their behaviour was equally ludicrous, silly and indecent; affecting to rally the evidence that was produced against them, and to make the people smile at their premeditated bulls. Carrick, was a lean, fair man, and stood at the left hand corner of the bar; Molony was a larger built man, who wore a browner wig. Carrick took occasion to ask Mr. Young, when he stood up to give his evidence, which side of the chair it was he stood on, when he robbed him. Mr. Young answered him, that he stood on the right side. "Why now, what a lie that is", returned Carrick, "you know Molony, I stood on the left." Before the people recovered themselves from laughing at this, Molony asked him what coloured wig he took him to have on at the time the robbery was committed; being answered it was much the same colour with that he had on then, "There's another story", quoth Molony, "you know, Carrick, I changed wigs with you that morning, and wore it all day."
Yet after sentence was passed, Molony laid aside all airs of gaiety, and seemed to be thoroughly convinced he had mistaken the true path of happiness. He did not care to see company, treated the Ordinary civilly when he spoke to him, though he professed himself a Papist, and was visited by a clergymen of that Church.
As he was going to the place of execution, he still looked graver and mote concerned; though he did not fall into those agonies of sighing and tears as some do, but seemed to bear his miserable state with great composedness and resignation, saying he had repented as well as he could in the short time allowed him, suffering the same day with the two last mentioned malefactors.
Source: Hayward, Lives of the Most Remarkable Criminals