Cache-Control: public, max-age=1024000 Lives of Remarkable Criminals: Thomas Packer


a Highwayman

Thomas Packer, the companion of the last-named criminal both in his crimes and in his punishment, was the son of very honest and reputable parents, not far from Newgate Street. His father gave him a competent education, designing always to put him in a trade, and as soon as he was fit for it placed him accordingly with a vintner at Greenwich. There he served for some years, but growing out of humour with the place, be made continual instances to his friends to be removed. They, willing and desirous to comply with the young man's honours, at length after repeated solicitation prevailed with his master to consent, and then he was removed to another tavern in town. There he completed his time, but ever after being of a rambling disposition, was continually changing places and never settled.

Amongst those in which he had lived, there was a tavern where he resided as a drawer for about six weeks. Here he got into acquaintance of a woman, handsome, indeed, but of no fortune, and little reputation. His affection for this woman and the money he spent on her, was the chief occasion of those wants which prevailed upon him to join with Picken in those attempts which were fatal to them both. It cannot, indeed, be said that the woman in any degree excited him to such practices. On the contrary, the poor creature really endeavoured by every method she could to procure money for their support, and did all that in her lay (while Packer was under his misfortunes) to prevent the necessities of life from hindering him in that just care which was necessary to secure his interest in that which was to come.

Packer was in himself a lad of very great good nature, and not without just principles if he had been well improved, but the rambling life he had led, and his too tender affection for the before-mentioned woman, led him into great crimes rather than he would see her sustain great wants. The reflection which he conceived his death would bring upon his parents, and the miseries which he dreaded it would draw upon his wife and child, seemed to press him heavier than any apprehension for himself to his own sufferings, which from the time of his commitment he bore with the greatest patience, and improved to the utmost of his power. As he was sensible there was no hopes of remaining in this world, so he immediately removed his thought, his wishes and his hopes from thence, applied himself seriously to his devotions, and never suffered even the woman whom he so much loved to interfere or hinder them in any degree.

As it had been his first week of robbing, and his last too, he had little confession to make in that respect. He acknowledged, however, the fact which they had done in that space, and seemed to be heartily penitent, ashamed and sorry for his offences. At the place of execution he behaved with the same decency which accompanied him through all the sorrowful stations of his sad condition. He was asked whether he would say anything to the people, but he declined it, though he had a paper in his hand which he had designed to read, which for the satisfaction of the public, I have thought fit to annex.

The paper left by Thomas Packer.

Good People,

I see a large number of you assembled here, to behold a miserable end of us whom the Law condemns to death for our offence, and for the sake of giving you warning, makes us in our last moments, public spectacles. I submit with the utmost resignation to the stroke of the Law, and I heartily pray Almighty God that the sight of my shameful death, may inspire every one of you with lasting resolutions of leading an honest life. The facts for which both Picken and I die were really committed by us, and consequently the sentence under which we suffer, is very just. Let me then press ye again that the warnings of our deaths may not be in vain, but that you will remember our fate, and by urging that against your depraved wishes, prevent following our steps; which is all I have to say.

Thomas Packer

He was about twenty years of age at the time he suffered, which was with the afore-mentioned malefactor at Tyburn, much pitied by all the spectators.

Source: Hayward, Lives of the Most Remarkable Criminals