The life, trial, and execution, of Wm. Booth
The life, trial, and execution, of
Executed at Stafford, on Saturday, Aug. 15, 1812, for Forgery & Coining.
William Booth, the subject of the following narrative, was born at Ullenhill, in the parish of Wootton Wawen, in the county of Warwick, of respectable parents, he was brought up a farmer, and settled in a farm of about two hundred acres of land at Perry Barr, in the county of Stafford, about five miles from Birmingham, where, not being content with honest industry, betook himself to forgery and money making, which he carried on to a great extent in his house, which was more like a manufactory than a farm house, he employed several people to work for him in that evil practice, who were taken and convicted with him.—He had trap doors from one room to another, and his house was so strongly barred and bolted that it was almost invulnerable to the attack of any assailant.—The police was attended by a party of dragoons when they were taken.
He was brought to trial on Friday the 31st of July, 1812 before the Hon. Sir Simon le Blanc, and found guilty of forgery; the next day he was brought to the bar with some of his accomplices, and convicted of coining dollars, 3s. and 1s. 6d. bank tokens, &c.; after which, the learned Judge passed sentence of death upon him, in the most awful and impressive manner. He heard his sentence without the least dismay, and at the conclusion bowed respectfully to the court.
On Saturday, the 15th of August, the awful preparations which usually precede public executions having been gone through, the unhappy criminal was conducted to the fatal drop; he ascended with a firm and steady step, but turned his back upon the populace almost immediately; after some time spent in prayer, the rope was adjusted, and a signal being given by the malefactor, (throwing his handkerchief from him that he was ready to submit to his fate,) the drop sunk, when, shocking to relate, by the cord slipping from the fatal tree, the unfortunate man fell from the top of the gallows upon the platform, a distance of eight or ten feet, where he remained motionless and insensible for some minutes, but on the halter being removed from his neck, and suspended animation restored. he betrayed no symptoms of pain, fear, or impatience, but resumed with the clergyman, with increased fervor and resignation, his devout supplications to the Almighty, for forgiveness of his offences; and having begged the executioner to fasten his hands securely, he again, with great fortitude, ascended the drop; after some delay taking place, (in distressing and protracted preparations,) before the sentence was carried into effect, he gave a second signal, but from some unforseen circumstance the drop of the platform did not fall, and he again called for his handkerchief, which was given to him, and on his throwing it from him a third time, the drop fell, and he died without struggling.
No man ever submitted to his fate with more decent composure, manly fortitude, and intrepid firmness, but we understand he made no confession whatever, either previous to, or at the place of execution. The dreadful circumstances above related, took up a period of nearly two hours before its awful termination, and a vast concourse of spectators, such as was never before witnessed, attended on this melancholy occasion, and all appeared much affected with his unfortunate and untimely end.
His wife, his sister, and his two daughters (the one about fourteen and the other three years of age,) took their final leave of him on the day preceding, and a more distressing scene cannot easily be conceived. He was thirty-three years of age.