Cache-Control: public, max-age=1024000 Lives of Remarkable Criminals: Nathaniel Jackson


a Highwayman

The various dispositions of men make frequent differences in their progress, either in virtue or vice; some being disposed to cultivate this or that branch of their duty with peculiar diligence, and others, again, plunging themselves in some immoralities they have no taste for.

But as for this unfortunate criminal, Nathaniel Jackson, he seemed to have swept all impurities with a drag net, and to have habituated himself to nothing but wickedness from his cradle. He was the son of a person of some fortune at Doncaster, in Yorkshire, who died when his son Nat was very young, but not, however, till he had given him some education. He was bound by a friend, in whose hands his father left his fortune, to a silk-weaver at Norwich, with whom he lived about three years; but his master restraining his extravagancies, and taking great pains to keep him within the bounds of moderation, Jackson at last grew so uneasy that he ran away from his master, and absconded for some time. But his guardian at last hearing where he was, wrote to him, and advised him to purchase some small place with his fortune, whereon he might live with economy, since he perceived he would do no good in trade. Jackson despised this advice, and instead of thinking of settling, got into the Army, and with a regiment of dragoons went over into Ireland.

There he indulged himself in all the vices and lusts to which he was prone, living in all those debaucheries to which the meanest and most licentious of the common soldiers are addicted; but he more especially gave himself up to lewdness and the conversation of women. This, as it led him into abundance of inconveniences, so at last it engaged him in a quarrel with one of his comrades which ended in a duel. Jackson had the advantage of his antagonist and hacked and wounded him in a most cruel manner. For this, his officers broke him, and he thereby lost the fifteen guineas which he had given to be admitted into the troop; and as men are always apt to be angry with punishment, however justly they receive it, so Jackson imputed his being cashiered to the officers' covetousness, the crime he had committed passing in his own imagination for a very trivial action.

Having from this accident a new employment to seek, he came over to his guardian and stayed with him a while. But growing very soon weary of those restraints which were put upon him there, as he had done at those under his Norwich master, he soon fell into his old courses, got into an acquaintance with lewd women and drunken fellows, with whom he often stayed out all night at the most notorious bawdy houses. This making a great noise, his friends remonstrated in the strongest terms, pointing out to him the wrong he did himself; but finding all their persuasions ineffectual, they told him plainly he must remove. Upon this he came up to London, not without receiving considerable presents from his so much abused friends.

The town was an ill place to amend a man who came into it with dispositions like his. On the contrary, he found still more opportunities for gratifying his lustful inclinations than at any time before, and these lewd debaucheries having reduced him quickly to the last extremity, he was in a fair way to be prevailed on to take any method to gain money. He was in these said circumstances when he met accidentally with John Morphew, an old companion of his in Ireland, and soon after, as they were talking together, they fell upon one O'Brian in a footman's garb, also their acquaintance in Ireland.

He invited them both to go with him to the camp in Hyde Park, and at a sutler's tent there, treated them with as much as they would drink. When he had paid the reckoning, turning about, "d'ye see, boys", says he, "how full my pockets are of money? Come, I'll teach you to fill yours, if you are but men of courage." Upon this out they walked towards Hampstead, between which place and St. Pancras they met one Dennet, whom they robbed and stripped, taking from him a coat and a waistcoat, two shirts, some hair, thirteen pence in money, and other things. This did not make O'Brian's promise good, all they got being but of inconsiderable value, but it cost poor Jackson his life, though he and Morphew had saved Dennet's when O'Brian would have killed him to prevent discoveries; for Jackson being not long after apprehended, was convicted of the fact, but O'Brian, having timely notice of his commitment, made his escape into Ireland.

As soon as sentence was passed, Jackson thought of nothing but how to prepare himself for another world, there being no probability that interest his friends could make to save him. He made a very ingenious confession of all he knew, and seemed perfectly easy and resigned to that end which the Law had appointed for those who, like him, had injured society. He was about thirty years old at the time of his death, which was on the 18th of July, 1722, at Tyburn.

Source: Hayward, Lives of the Most Remarkable Criminals