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

The Lives of JOHN TRIPPUCK, the Golden Tinman, a Highwayman; RICHARD CANE, a Footpad; THOMAS CHARNOCK, a thief; and RICHARD SHEPHERD, a Housebreaker

who were all executed at Tyburn, the 29th of January, 1719-20

The first of these offenders had been an old sinner, and I suppose had acquired the nickname of the Golden Tinman as a former practitioner in the same wretched calling did that of the Golden Farmer.[1] Trippuck had robbed alone and in company for a considerable space, till his character was grown so notorious that some short time before his being taken for the last offence, he had, by dint of money and interest, procured a pardon. However, venturing on the deed which brought him to his death, the person injured soon seized him, and being inexorable in his prosecution, Trippuck was cast and received sentence. However, having still some money, he did not lose all hope of a reprieve, but kept up his spirits by flattering himself with his life being preserved, till within a very few days of the execution. If the Ordinary spoke to him of the affairs of the soul, Trippuck immediately cut him short with, "D'ye believe I can obtain a pardon? I don't know that, indeed", says the doctor. "But you know one Counsellor Such-a-one", says Trippuck, "prithee make use of your interest with him, and see whether you can get him to serve me. I'll not be ungrateful, doctor."

The Ordinary was almost at his wits' end with this sort of cross purposes; however, he went on to exhort him to think of the great work he had to do, and entreated him to consider the nature of that repentance which must atone for all his numerous offences. Upon this, Trippuck opened his breast and showed him a great number of scars amongst which were two very large ones, out of which he said two musket bullets had been extracted. "And will not these, good doctor", quoth he, "and the vast pains I have endured in their cure, in some sort lessen the heinousness of the facts I may have committed? No", said the Ordinary, "what evils have fallen upon you in such expeditions, you have drawn upon yourself, and do not imagine that these will in any degree make amends for the multitude of your offences. You had much better clear your conscience by a full and ingenious confession of your crimes, and prepare in earnest for another world, since I dare assure you, you need entertain no hopes of staying in this."

As soon as be found the Ordinary was in the right, and that all expectation of a reprieve or pardon were totally in vain, Trippuck began, as most of those sort of people do, to lose much of that stubbornness they mistake for courage. He now felt all the terrors of an awakened conscience, and persisted no longer in denying the crime for which he died, though at first he declared it altogether a falsehood, and Constable, his companion, had denied it even to death. As is customary when persons are under their misfortune, it had been reported that this Trippuck was the man who killed Mr. Hall towards the end of the summer before on Blackheath, but when the story reached the Golden Tinman's ears he declared it was an utter falsity; repeating this assertion to the Ordinary a few moments before his being turned off, and pointing to the rope about him, he said, "As you see this instrument of death about me, what I say is the real truth." He died with all outward signs of penitence.

Richard Cane was a young man of about twenty-two years of age, at the time he suffered. Having a tolerable genius when a youth, his friends put him apprentice twice, but to no purpose, for having got rambling notions in his head, he would needs go to sea. There, but for his unhappy temper, he might have done well, for the ship of war in which he sailed was so fortunate as to take, after eight hours sharp engagement, a Spanish vessel of immense value; but the share he got did him little service. As soon as he came home Richard made a quick hand of it, and when the usual train of sensual delights which pass for pleasures in low life had exhausted him to the last farthing, necessity and the desire of still indulging his vices, made him fall into the worst and most unlawful methods to obtain the means which they might procure them.

Sometime after this, the unhappy man of whom we are speaking fell in love (as the vulgar call it) with an honest, virtuous, young woman, who lived with her mother, a poor, well-meaning creature, utterly ignorant of Cane's behaviour, or that he had ever committed any crimes punishable by Law. The girl, as such silly people are wont, yielded quickly to a marriage which was to be consummated privately, because Cane's relations were not to be disobliged, who it seems did not think him totally ruined so long as he escaped matrimony. But the unhappy youth not having enough money to procure a licence, and being ashamed to put the expense on the woman and her mother, in a fit of amorous distraction went out from them one evening, and meeting a man somewhat fuddled in the street, threw him down, and took away his hat and coat. The fellow was not so drunk but that he cried out, and people coming to his assistance, Cane was immediately apprehended, and so this fact, instead of raising him money enough to be married, brought him to death in this ignominious way.

While he lay in Newgate, the miserable young creature who was to have been his wife came constantly to cry with him and deplore their mutual misfortunes, which were increased by the girl's mother falling sick, and being confined to her bed through grief for her designed son-in-law's fate. When the day of his suffering drew on, this unhappy man composed himself to submit to it with great serenity. He professed abundance of contrition for the wickedness of his former life and lamented with much tenderness those evils he had brought upon the girl and her mother. The softness of his temper, and the steady affection he had for the maid, contributed to make his exit much pitied; which happened at Tyburn in the twenty-second year of his age. He left this paper behind him, which he spoke at the tree.

Good People,

The Law having justly condemned me for my offence to suffer in this shameful manner, I thought it might be expected that I should say something here of the crime for which I die, the commission of which I do readily acknowledge, though it was attended with that circumstance of knocking down, which was sworn against me. I own I have been guilty of much wickedness, and am exceedingly troubled at the reflection it may bring upon my relations, who are all honest and reputable people. As I die for the offences I have done, and die in charity forgiving all the world, so I hope none will be so cruel as to pursue my memory with disgrace or insult an unhappy young woman on my account, whose character I must vindicate with my last breath, as all the justice I am able to do her, I die in the communion of the Church of England and humbly request your prayers for my departing soul.

Richard Shepherd was born of very honest and reputable parents in the city of Oxford, who were careful in giving him a suitable education, which he, through the wickedness of his future life, utterly forgot, insomuch that he knew scarce the Creed and the Lord's Prayer, at the time he had most need of them. When he grew a tolerable big lad his friends put him out as apprentice to a butcher, where having served a great part of his time, he fell in love, as they call it, with a young country lass hard by, and Dick's passion growing outrageous, he attacked the poor maid with all the amorous strains of gallantry he was able. The hearts of young uneducated wenches, like unfortified towns, make little resistance when once beseiged, and therefore Shepherd had no great difficulty in making a conquest. However the girl insisted on honourable terms, and unfortunately for the poor fellow they were married before his time was out; an error in conduct, which in low life is seldom retrieved.

It happened so here. Shepherd's master was not long before he discovered this wedding. He thereupon gave the poor fellow so much trouble that he was at last forced to give him forty shillings down, and a bond for twenty-eight pounds more. This having totally ruined him, Dick unhappily fell into the way of dishonest company, who soon drew him into their ways of gaining money and supplying his necessities at the hazard both of his conscience and his neck; in which, though he became an expert proficient, yet could he never acquire anything considerable thereby, but was continually embroiled in debt. His wife bringing every year a child, contributed not a little thereto. However, Dick rubbed on mostly by thieving and as little by working as it was possible to avoid.

When he first began his robberies, he went housebreaking, and actually committed several facts in the city of Oxford itself. But those things not being so easily to be concealed there as at London, report quickly began to grow very loud about him, and Dick was forced to make shift with pilfering in other places; in which he was (to use the manner of speaking of those people) so unlucky that the second or third fact he committed in Hertfordshire, he was detected, seized, and at the next assizes capitally convicted. Yet out of compassion to his youth, and in hopes he might be sufficiently checked by so narrow an escape from the gallows, his friends procured him first a reprieve and then a pardon.

But this proximity to death made little impression on his heart, which is too often the fault in persons who, like him, receive mercy, and have notwithstanding too little grace to make use of it. Partly driven by necessity, for few people cared after his release to employ him, partly through the instigations of his own wicked heart, Dick went again upon the old trade for which he had so lately been like to have suffered, but thieving was still an unfortunate profession to him. He soon after fell again into the hands of Justice, from whence he escaped by impeaching Allen and Chambers, two of his accomplices, and so evaded Tyburn a second time. Yet all this signified nothing to him, for as soon as he was at home, so soon to work he went in his old way, till apprehended and executed for his wickedness.

No unhappy criminal had more warning than Shepherd of his approaching miserable fate, if he would have suffered anything to have deterred him; but alas! what are advices, terrors, what even the sight of death itself, to souls hardened in sin and consciences so seared as his. He had, when taken up and carried before Col. Ellis, been committed to New Prison for a capital offence. He had not remained there long before he wrote the Colonel a letter in which (provided he were admitted an evidence) he offered to make large discoveries. His offers were accepted, and several convicted capitally at the Old Bailey by him were executed at Tyburn, whither for his trade of housebreaking, Shepherd quickly followed them.

While in Newgate Shepherd had picked up a thoughtless resolution as to dying, not uncommon to those malefactors who, having been often condemned, go at last hardened to the gallows. When he was exhorted to think seriously of making his peace with God, he replied 'twas done and he was sure of going to Heaven.

With these were executed Thomas Charnock, a young man well and religiously educated. By his friends he had been placed in the house of a very eminent trader, and being seduced by ill-company yielded to the desire of making a show in the world. In order to do so, he robbed his master's counting-house, which fact made him indeed conspicuous, but in a very different manner from what he had flattered himself with. They died tolerably submissive and penitent, this last malefactor, especially, having rational ideas of religion.


[1] William Davis, the Golden Farmer, was a notorious highwayman, who obtained his sobriquet from a habit of always paying in gold. He was hanged in Fleet Street, December 20, 1689. His adventures are told at length in Smith's "History of the Highwaymen", edited by me and published in the same series as this volume.

Source: Hayward, Lives of the Most Remarkable Criminals