Lorrain, Paul (DNB00)

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LORRAIN, PAUL (d. 1719), ordinary of Newgate, may, from the fact that he translated several small religious works by Muret and others from the French, coupled with his name and his ability to speak French (Confession of J. P. Dramatti), be safely inferred to have been of Huguenot extraction. He was educated at neither of the English universities, but describes himself as presbyter of the church of England. He was appointed ordinary of Newgate prison in September 1698, his predecessor, Samuel Smith, subject of a witty elegy and epitaph by Tom Brown (Works, iv. 41), having died on 24 Aug. in that year. From his appointment until 1719 he compiled the official accounts of the dying speeches of criminals condemned to capital punishment; forty-eight of these broadsheets are in the British Museum. The confessions, to which are prefixed abstracts of Lorrain's ‘funeral sermons,’ are generally headed ‘The Ordinary of Newgate, his Account of the Behaviour, Confession, and last Speech of X.,’ &c. They were issued at eight o'clock on the morning following the execution, and signed Paul Lorrain, the public being warned against counterfeits and unauthorised accounts. Among the most notorious felons whom Lorrain attended to the scaffold were Captain Kidd, Captain T. Smith, James Sheppard, Deborah Churchill, and Jack Hill (Ashton, Social Life in Reign of Anne, 1883, p. 416). On some occasions fifteen or even twenty condemned persons were executed at once, and the confessions are proportionately abridged. In a joint letter from Pope and Bolingbroke to Swift, dated December 1725, the ‘late ordinary’ is described ironically as the ‘great historiographer.’ The penitence of his clients is always described as so heartfelt that the latter are playfully called by Steele ‘Lorrain's Saints’ (Tatler, No. 63; cf. Spectator, No. 338). Lorrain died at his house in Town Ditch on 7 Oct. 1719 (Mist's Weekly Journal, 10 Oct. s.a.). He is said to have left 5,000l. (ib. 17 Oct.), and his post, which was in the gift of the lord mayor and court of aldermen, was keenly contested until 20 Nov., when ‘Mr. Purney, a young sucking divine of twenty-four years of age,’ was elected ‘at the recommendation of the very Orthodox Bishop of P——’ (The Orphan Reviv'd; Powell's Weekly Journal, 21 Nov. 1719).

Besides several sermons, including one on ‘Popery near akin to Paganism and Atheism,’ dedicated to Harley (1712), and a translation of Muret's ‘Rites of Funeral’ (1683), Lorrain brought out in 1702 a little book, entitled ‘The Dying Man's Assistant,’ dedicated to Sir Thomas Abney, Lord Mayor, in addition to which he published and advertised on the vacant spaces of his ‘Confessions’ various small manuals of medicine, devotion, corn-cutting, &c.—probably his own compilations.

[Elwin and Courthope's Pope, vii. 67; Hist. Reg. 1720, Chron. Diary, p. 7 (inaccurate as to dates); British Essayists, 1823, ix. 153 n.; Watt's Bibl. Brit. p. 616; Brit. Mus. Cat.]

T. S.