The Life of ROBERT HAYNES
a Murderer, etc.
As from a multitude of instances in the course of these memoirs it has been shown how great a misfortune it is to be destitute of education, so from the following life it will appear that an improper education is as dangerous as none at all.
Robert Haynes, the criminal whose history we are to give at present, was the son of persons in Ireland, of none of the best circumstances, who yet afforded him a very good education, causing him to be instructed not only in the Latin, but also in the Greek tongue, in both of which to the day of his death he attained a tolerable knowledge. His father, it seems, though he had done everything for his son in breeding him a scholar, though when he grew up to man's estate he had nothing to give him, and was forced to let him come over to England to list himself in the Foot Guards. His officers gave him always the character of a quiet, inoffensive lad, who injured nobody, nor was himself addicted to those vices which are common to the men of his profession. On the contrary, he retained yet strong notions of those religious principles in which he had been educated. He addicted himself much to reading, and though his spirit was not a little broken by the consideration of that low life by which he was obliged to stoop, yet he preserved a becoming spirit and a very gentleman-like behaviour upon all occasions; so that the officers of his regiment very much regretted that misfortune which brought him to an untimely end. Of the occasion of this we come next to speak, since his youth and the regularity of his life prevented any other of his adventures coming to our notice.
It happened one Sunday evening, as he was walking along St. James's Park, with two other soldiers, they met two men and two women. Haynes unluckily kissed one of the women, upon which one of the men turned and broke his head. As was insisted even to the time of the death of this unfortunate person, the swords of both were drawn; however that were, he gave his antagonist a wound in the breast of which he died. For this he was apprehended and committed prisoner to Newgate. At the ensuing sessions of the Old Bailey he was indicted for wilfully murdering Edward Perry, by giving him a wound on the left part of the right breast near the short ribs, of the depth of twelve inches, and of the length of one. He was also indicted a second time on the Statute of Stabbing, and a third time upon the coroner's inquest for wilful murder. On all three of which, notwithstanding his defence, and the witnesses he called, he was found guilty; and although some honourable persons took a great deal of pains to procure a pardon or reprieve for him, yet it proved of no purpose, but he and the afore-mentioned malefactor were put into the death warrant and ordered for execution.
For himself he had little hopes from the endeavours of his friends and therefore behaved himself as if he had had none, being not only constant and devout at the public exercises in the chapel, but also ardent in his devotions in private and by himself. As the youth wanted not good sense, and had not forgot the education he had received in Ireland, so in every respect while under sentence of death he performed what could be expected from a man of courage, and a Christian, under his circumstances. A minister, out of charity, visited him several times and prayed with him, exhorting him always to make a dear and candid confession of the fact, and, since there were no hopes, not to go to death with a lie between his lips. Yet he persisted still in what he had at first declared, and continued to assert the truth of that declaration, until the gaol sickness brought him so low, that he was scarce able to speak at all. In this low slate of health he continued until within two or three days of his death, when he began to pick up strength a little; and as soon as he was able to go up the stairs, he attended as usual the devotions of the chapel. In this frame and disposition of heart he remained until the day of his execution came, upon which he appeared not only calm but cheerful, received the Sacrament as is usual with malefactors at the day of their death, and behaved at it in a very pious and religious manner.
When he came to Tyburn he stood up, and intended to have spoken to the people, but finding himself too weak, he referred to a paper which he delivered to Mr. Applebee, a printer, and which contained the substance of what (if he had been able) he would have there spoken; and then, after a few private ejaculations, he easily resigned up his breath at the same time with the other malefactor, being then in the one-and-twentieth year of his age. I thought proper to insert the copy of that letter I have before spoken of, and it follows verbatim.
I am to suffer by Law an ignominious death (God's will be done) which untimely end I never expected. I am a youth and it's above twelve months since I enlisted into his Majesty's Service. The character of my behaviour in that time I will leave to my acquaintance to declare; my character was sufficiently testified at my trial, by gentlemen of worth and honour. I pray God bless them for their Christian charity. I praise God my resolution to live uprightly was no constraint; as for the cause I suffer, and the horrid imputation I am charged with which is rendered murder (from my soul I abhor) I now declare as I expect salvation, I am unjustly accused, but I freely forgive my persecutors, as I hope to be forgiven; for what I did was accidental, and in my own vindication. The real truth is as follows:
The two soldiers that were my evidence desired my company to drink with them. As we were returning home through the Park, passing by two women, and being warm with liquor, I presumed to give one of them a kiss; the other was a married woman, and resenting my freedom, called out to her husband, Edward Perry deceased, and to Toms that walked before, both entire strangers to me. They returned, Toms advanced towards me speaking abruptly, and struck me over the head and shoulders with a stick, which stunned me; likewise he urged the deceased to quarrel with me. The deceitful Perry enraged, swore he would see me out, and struck me with his sword in his scabbard over the head. He drew his sword and made several passes at me, I still retreated till provoked to draw my sword to preserve myself. This affair was in the night. I received a wound in my right hand thumb, and a thrust through my coat. This I declare to be the whole truth, as I shall answer before my great God; though my persecutors, Toms and the deceased man's wife, swore quite the reverse, which took place to my ruin. I pray God forgive them their trespasses, as I hope forgiveness for my own. I pray God bless my good colonel for his care and endeavours for my safety; I pray God bless him with length of days and prosperity in all his undertakings. I thank God, I never wronged man, woman, or child, to my knowledge, nor was I ever inclined to quarrel. I heartily beg of God pardon and forgiveness for my sins, and I confide in the merits of my dear Saviour, who died for the World. I was baptized and bred a member of the Church of England (though an unworthy and unfortunate one) in which Communion I hope for salvation through my blessed Redeemer.
Sunday, February the 12th, 1726.
Source: Hayward, Lives of the Most Remarkable Criminals