Cache-Control: public, max-age=1024000 Lives of Remarkable Criminals: Luke Nunney


a murderer

Though drunkenness in itself is a shocking and beastly crime, yet in its consequences it is also often so bloody and inhuman that one would wonder persons of understanding should indulge themselves in a sin at once so odious and so fatal both to body and soul. The instances of persons who have committed murders when drunk, and those accompanied with circumstances of such barbarity as even those persons themselves could not have heard without trembling, are so many and so well known to all of any reading, or who have made any reflection, that I need not dwell longer than the bare narration of this malefactor's misfortunes will detain me, to warn against a vice which makes them always monsters and often murderers.

Luke Nunney, of whom we are to speak, was a young fellow of some parts, and of a tolerable education, his father, at the time of his death, being a shoemaker in tolerable circumstances, and very careful in the bringing up of his children. He was more particularly zealous in affording them due notions of religion, and took abundance of pains himself to inculcate them in their tender years, which at first had so good an effect upon this Luke that his whole thoughts ran upon finding out that method of worship in which he was most likely to please God. Sometimes, though his parents were at the Church of England, he slipped to a Presbyterian Meeting-house, where he was so much affected with the preacher's vehemency in prayer and his plain and pious method of preaching that he often regretted not being bred up in that way, and the loss his parents sustained by their not having a relish for religion ungraced with exterior ornaments. These were his thoughts, and his practice was suitable to them, until the misfortunes of his father obliged him to break up the house, and put Luke out to work at another place.

The men where Nunney went to work were lewd and profligate fellows, always talking idly or lewdly, relating stories of what had passed in the country before they came up to work in London, the intrigues they had had with vicious women, and such loose and unprofitable discourses. This quickly destroyed the former good inclinations of Luke, who first began to waver in religion, and as he had quitted the Church of England to turn to the Dissenters, so now he had some thoughts of leaving them for the Quakers; but after going often to their meetings he professed he thought their behaviour so ridiculous and absurd as not to deserve the name either of religion or Divine worship.

His instability of mind pressed him also to go out into the world, for it appeared to him a great evil that while all the rest of his companions were continually discoursing of their adventures, he should have none to mention of his own. Some of them, also, having slightingly called him Cockney and reproaching him with never having been seven miles from London, he remembered that his father had some near relations in the west of England, so he took a sudden resolution of going down thither to work at his trade. Full of these notions he went over one evening pretty late with his brother to Southwark, and meeting there with an acquaintance who would needs make him drink, they stayed pretty long at the house, insomuch that Luke got very drunk, and being always quarrelsome when he had liquor, insulted and abused everybody in the room. As he was quarrelling particularly with one James Young, William Bramston who stood by, came up and desired him to be quiet, advised him to go home with his company, and not stay and make a disturbance where nobody had a mind to quarrel but himself. Without making any reply Luke struck him a blow on the face. Bramston thereupon held up his fist as if he would have struck him, but did not. However Nunney struck him again and pushed him forwards, upon which Bramston reeled, cried out he was stabbed and a dead man, that Nunney was the person who gave him the wound, and Luke thereupon (drunk as he was) attempted to run away.

Upon this he was apprehended, committed prisoner to Newgate, and the next sessions, on the evidence of such of his companions as were present, he was convicted and received sentence of death. He behaved himself from that time as a person who had as little desire as hopes of continuing in the world, enquired diligently both of the Ordinary and of the man who was under sentence with him, how he should prepare himself for his latter end, coming constantly to chapel, and praying regularly at all times. Yet at the place of execution he declared himself a Papist. He added, that at the time the murder was committed he had no knife nor could he imagine how it was done, being so drunk that he knew nothing that had happened until the morning, when he found himself in custody. He was about twenty years of age at the time of his suffering on the 25th of May, 1723.

Source: Hayward, Lives of the Most Remarkable Criminals