An account of the Execution of that Horrid Villain JOHN THOMAS, Who
was. Hanged in front of York prison, on Tuesday the 16th of
January 1822, for the inhuman, murder of Margaret Thomson, a far-
mer's, wife, and of Mary Harris, a girl of eleven years of age:?Also,
his Dying Speech at the place of execution.
ON Tuesday the 16th of January, 1822,
John Thomas was executed at Whitehaven,
for repeated acts of cruelty and murder.
The crimes for which this depraved wretch
suffered were attended with circumstances of
uncommon barbarity; and, had they not been
acknowledged by himself, when on the brink
of eternity, it would not be credited that a man
so devoid of feeling, so totally savage in his.
mind, could be found in a civilized country.
The murders for which he was tried and
condemned, were well known to the public
some time ago; and which coupled with the
discoveries he made after his condemnation,
had a powerful effect in exciting a general;
curoisity to see the perpetrator of so many at-
rocious and most inhuman offences?of course,
the number of spectators assembled at the
place of execution, was greatly beyond what
has been observed on an ordinary occasion.
Although this wretched man must have been
extremely hardened while leading his career of
unexampled wickedness, he at last, through
the unwearied endeavours of several pious and
worthy gentlemen who attended him after his
condemnation, became sensible of the magni-
tude of his iniquities, declared his sorrow for
the crimes be had committed, expressed hopes
of forgiveness from Almighty God, and died
One of the murders for.which he was exe-
cuted was that of Margaret Thomson, an old
woman, and the wife of a respectable farmer.
Thomas, entered the house when the unfortun-
ate woman was alone; and she being then en-
gaged in some domestic concern, with her
back towards the door (which had been open
for some time previous) did not immediately
perceive him. Of this circumstance the villain
took a fatal advantage; he came softly behind
the poor woman, and knocked her down by a
blow on the head from a bill-hook, after which
he dispatched her by repeated blows, giving
her several dreadful wounds. As. soon as he
perceived she was dead, he searched her pock.
ets, took out her keys, and went up stairs, where
he unlocked a chest of drawers, took out a suit
of her husband's clothes, in which he deliber-
ately dressed himself, leaving his own, covered
with the blood of the murdered woman, in their
place and then quietly walked away!
After this bloody transaction, he proceeded
towards Dodsbrooke. In the evening he met
a girl, about eleven years of age, on the road.
He inquired if she could shew him the way to
the next village, and, at the same time pro-
mised ber a penny if she would accompany him,
as he was afraid he would miss the proper road,
day-light being nearly withdrawn
The unsuspecting child, whose name was
Mary Harris, and who belonged to one of the
villages, complied with the monster's request,
and went with him toward next village.
They had not proceeeded [ ] on the road,
when he suddenly se[ ]celess guide,,
and dragged her int[ ]ng enclosure,
where he attempted [ ]; her erson; but,
owing to the resistan[ ]made, he did not
accomplish his purpose.
Finding himself disappointed in the first part
of his designs, he immediately proceed to
the perpetration of the second, and which,
perhaps, for disgracefulness and blood thirsty
cruelty, was never exceeded by the- most pro-
He searched about till he procured a heavy
stick, with which he returned to his already ex-
hausted victim and literally beat out her brainst!
It being now quite dark, he acknowledged that,
he ascertained the fact of having beat her head
in pieces by feeling it over with his hand.
He then proceeded to strip the body, which
he disengaged of every article of clothing, tak-
ing off the very shirt, and tied all up in his
handkerchief He proceeded to a neighbour-
ing pool of water to wash himself, and disco-.
vering that the unfortunate girl's shirt was
greatly stained with blood, he threw it into a
hedge, and left it behind him. he was soon
after apprehended; a reward of two hundred
guineas being offered for his apprehension,
when he confessed the above, and several other
His Dying Speech at the Place of Execution.
Good people, you are come to see my shame-
ful and untimely end, which, I confess, has de-
servedly fallen upon me, as the just judgment,
of the righteous of all the earth for the deepest
crimes; I beseech you to take warning by my
fall; beware of the subtile ways of the enemy of
our souls, going always about like a roaring
lion seeking whom he may devour. In my in-
fant years, not regarding God's holy words,
but wilfully breaking the Sabbath, I delighted
more to be at the alehouse with bad company,
than at the church. I becoming totally de-
praved, I committed the horrid murders for
which my heart now bleeds within me. I ear-nestly
nestly entreat all young persons to avoid Sab-
bath-breaking, drunkenness, and disobedience
to their parents, and to beware of lustful desires
and the company of lewd women, who will
betray them to ruin.
Printed by John Muir.
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Date of publication:
1822 shelfmark: L.C.Fol.73(025)
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