Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Hall, John (d.17Dec1707)

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HALL, JOHN (d. 1707), criminal, born of poor parents in Bishop's Head Court, Gray's Inn Lane, London, was brought up as a chimney-sweeper, but soon turned pickpocket, and in January 1682 was convicted of theft at the Old Bailey, and whipped at the cart's tail. He was sentenced to death in 1700 for housebreaking, but was pardoned on condition of removing within six months to America. He managed to desert the ship in which his passage was secured, and in 1702 was sentenced to be burnt in the cheek and to undergo two years' imprisonment for stealing portmanteaus from behind a coach. On his return in 1704 he joined, with two companions, Stephen Bunce and Richard Low, in a series of daring burglaries, and managed for a time to escape arrest, and when arrested in 1705, and again in 1706, was acquitted for want of evidence. In 1707 he and his two friends, Bunce and Low, were convicted of breaking open the house of Captain Guyon, near Stepney, and were hanged at Tyburn on 17 Dec. 1707. Luttrell, in his ‘Brief Relation,’ vi. 115, mentions the conviction of Hall, ‘a notorious highwayman,’ on 10 Dec. 1706, but the ‘Newgate Calendar’ gives 1707 as the date of Hall's death. Hall is credited with composing before his execution: ‘Memoirs of the Right Villanous John Hall, the late famous and notorious robber, penn'd from his own mouth,’ published in London in 1708. This is a general account of a thief's life in and out of Newgate, with interesting lists of thieves' technical terms. A fourth edition of the same year contains some verses by Hall and his two friends, and an elegy and epitaph in verse upon him. In 1714 another edition, also called ‘the fourth,’ was issued.

[Knapp and Baldwin's Newgate Calendar, i. 47–8; Hall's Memoirs.]