The Lives of WILLIAM ROGERS, a Thief; WILLIAM SIMPSON, a Horse-dealer; and ROBERT OLIVER, alias WILLIAM JOHNSON, a Thief
The first of these persons was descended from very mean parents, who had, however, given him a tolerable education, so far as to qualify him by reading and writing for any ordinary kind of business, to which they intended to breed him on his coming to a fit age. They put him out apprentice to a shoemaker, with whom he lived out his time, with the approbation of his master and all who knew him. Afterwards he married a wife and worked for some time honestly as a journeyman at his trade, being exceedingly fond of his new wife. But she being a woman who liked living in a better state than he could afford by what he gained at his work, and he being desirous to live more at home, and yet maintain her plentifully too, at last came to picking and thieving; and being detected in stealing some shoes out of a shop, he was for that crime transported.
In Maryland and Virginia he continued some time working at his trade with masters there, who gave him great encouragement, so that he might have lived very happily there, if he had not been desirous of coming to England. His mind ran continually on his wife. It was for her sake that he at first had fallen into these practices, and to enjoy her conversation was almost the only thing which tempted him to return home.
On his arrival here, it was no doubt with the greatest uneasiness that he heard his wife, as soon as ever he went abroad, cohabited with another man and could never afterwards be brought to see him, or give him any assistance, no not when he was under his last and great misfortunes. Her unkindness afflicted the unhappy man so much that he grew careless of his safety, and thereby became speedily apprehended, and was tried for his offence in returning before the time was expired; and the fact being clear he was at once convicted.
Under sentence of death, he seemed to deplore nothing so much as the unkindness of his wife, who would not so much as afford him one visit, when he had hazarded, and even sacrificed his life to visit her. He confessed that he had been guilty of that crime for which he had formerly been transported, but denied that he lived in such a course of wickedness and debauchery as most malefactors do. On the contrary, he said he was heartily sorry for his sins, and hoped that God would accept his imperfect repentance.
William Simpson was a young man of very good parents in Gloucestershire, who had taken care to educate him carefully, both in the knowledge of letters and of true religion, and they then put him out apprentice to a tailor; but not liking that employment, he did not follow it, but lived with a relation of his who was a great farmer in the country. There, it seems, he stole a black gelding to the value of ten pounds, for which he was quickly apprehended and committed to prison, and upon very full evidence convicted. The unhappy youth said that nothing but idleness and an aversion to any employment were the causes of his committing an act of such a nature, so contrary to the principles in which he had been instructed, and to which he was not tempted by ill-company, or driven to by any straits. Under sentence of death he behaved with great modesty, penitence and civility, was desirous of being instructed and did everything that could be expected from a man in his miserable condition.
Robert Oliver, alias William Johnson, was born of parents of tolerable circumstances in Yorkshire, they bred him at school, and afterwards bound him apprentice to a tallow-chandler. After he was out of his time, he got somehow or other into the service of Mrs. North, where he robbed one Joseph Heppworth of seven-and-forty guineas. As soon as he had done it, he went to Moorgate and gave two-and-twenty of them for a horse, upon which he rode down into his own country, where he exchanged it for another horse, getting four guineas to boot. But the person who had lost the money being indefatigable, and imagining that he might have gone down into his own country, followed him thither, and after some time seized him and got him confined in Beverley gaol. But it seems he found a way to make his escape from thence, and so getting to London, skulked up and down here for some time, until at last he was discovered and committed to Newgate and at the ensuing sessions at the Old Bailey was tried and convicted for the aforesaid offence.
Under sentence he behaved himself stupidly, not seeming to have a just concern for the offence which he had committed. He was sullen, would say very little, did not deny the crime for which he died, but yet did not seem to have that compunction which might have been expected from a man in his sad condition.
At the place of execution Rogers said little; Simpson acknowledged lewd women had been his ruin; Robert Oliver acknowledged that he had been a vicious, unruly, young man, who had hearkened to no advice, but addicted to nothing but the accomplishment of his vices. They were all desirous of prayers, and after they were celebrated they submitted to their deaths very patiently; and with pious ejaculations, they were executed on the 21st of November, 1739, Rogers being forty years of age, Simpson nineteen, and Oliver twenty-two.
Source: Hayward, Lives of the Most Remarkable Criminals