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humanity! nor provoke the vengeance of that God, who, though he may be slow to punish, will not suffer his holy commands to be trampled under foot!
Account of the Case of JOHN STRETTON, who
was executed for robbing the Mail ; with an Account of the Circumstance that led to his Detection.
T fpectable parents,
HIS unhappy man was descended from re
him a liberal cducation; nor did any circumstance arise to throw blame on his character, till the discovery of the crime which cost him his life.
He was apprenticed to a grocer in London, and served his time with a degree of fidelity that would have done credit to any servant ; and he appeared to gain the general good opinion of those who were acquainted with him.
At the expiration of his apprenticeship he went to live as a journeyman to a grocer in Bishopsgateftreet, where he still maintained a fair character, and continued in this station several years, during which he married and had a daughrer; but his wife died a considerable time before the perpetration of the fact which rendered him a fatal victi:n to the violated laws of his country.
Mr. Stretton, having by his frugality accumulated a sum of money, opened a shop in Bishopra gate-freet on his own account, and had every reaLonable prospect of success; for lo regular had
been his conduct, and fo irreproachable was his character, that not any person in his own way of business refused to give him credit to any reasonable amount.
Unhappily, however, he had not long embarked in trade before his ruin ensued, from a cause which one would have thought very unlikely to produce it.
Having conceived a design of advancing himself in life by a second marriage, and a butcher in the neighbourhood being reputed worth a considerable sum of money, he paid his addresses to his daughter, who was so well pleased with him, that the did not hesitate to make a declaration in his favour; but the father, unwilling to part with any money, as a portion for his daughter, resolved nor to give his consent, because Mr. Streiton was not in circumstances of independence.
In the mean time the lovers contrived frequent opportunities of seeing each other, and the young woman repeatedly informed Mr. Stretton with the determination of her father. Chagrined by this circumstance, and resolved to remove the objec tion, which seemed to arise from his presumed poverty, he made the dreadful resolution of rob bing the mail.
He had not, however, for some time, an opportynity of carrying his intention into exécution; for he was seized with a severe fit of illness, which con. fined him to his bed for some weeks, during which time he was frequently visited by the girl whom he had courted, and also by her mother, who was a warm friend to the proposed marriage.
At length he recovered his health in a very con. siderable degree; on which he resolved to compleat, if poflible, the plan which had so long agitated his
mind. In pursưance hereof he took an opportunity when the shopman was in bed one Saturday night to quit the house, and go as far as the Cityroad, between Islington and London, where he awaited the arrival of the Northern mail, which came opposite Peerless-pool about two o'clock in the morning
Stretton, observing the post-boy coming up, stopped the mail, and took out such bags as he thought proper ; after which he went into Moor-, fields, where he examined the contents of the bags, and taking out fuch bills and notes as he thought proper, left the bags behind him, and retired to his own house.
As soon as the robbery was made known at the post-office, the Postmaster-general offered by advertisement, as is usual on such occa Gons, a reward of two hundred pounds for the apprehension of the robber: but nothing transpired in the course of several weeks; and it is probable that the offender might have remained much longer undetected, but for the following circumstance.
Stretton still continued to pay his addresses to the butcher's daughter; but her father, unwilling that she'fhould marry a man in low or doubtful circumstances, was continually talking to Stretton on the subject of money matters; till at length the latter was so imprudent as to thew him the drafts in his poffeffion, and even to send a porter to Mr. Boldero's, the banker, for the acceptance of one of them, that no doubt might remain of their being good notes: but the porter had no sooner presented the bill, than he was detained, and a peace-officer, and other persons, were sent in search of Mr. Stretton, whom they found at his own house. Vol. V. No. 41. С
They enquired how he came to be possessed of the note in question: to which he replied, thạt he had taken it in the course of business from a person in Bond-ftreet, who was in his debt.
This story did not seem to be credited: however a coach was called; and the parties went together to Bond-street, in search of the person who was said to have paid the bill: but po such man could be found; on which the suspicions against Stretton being greatly strengthened, he was conveyed to the • 'house of Sir John Fielding, who committed him to Newgate, to abide the event of a trial.
Objections being made by council to the putting him on his trial at the first and second sessions after his commitment, it was accordingly brought on at the third
When Mr. Stretton was put on his trial, full proof arose that the drafts and notes which had been taken out of the mail were found in his house, and, as he could give no probable account how they came into his pofseflion, there was a Itrong presumptive, amounting almost to positive, proof that he had himself committed the robbery; for it appeared evident to the jury, that a tradesman, who had taken these bills and notes in the common course of business, could have accounted for the manner in which he became poffessed of them, or at least of the greater part of them.
After a full deliberation on the case, the jury. did not hesitate to pronounce him guilty, the con
* It ought to be mentioned, to the credit of our courts of justice, that the slightest argument, which has but the appearance of reason, is sufficient
ta influence the bench in favour of the prisoner.
sequence of which was, that he received fentence of death.
After tonvi&ion he was regular in his attendance on the offices of divine worship; but no arguments that were made use of could prevail on him to acknowledge his guilt; and he steadily perfifted in a denial of the justice of his sentence. Notwithstanding this, he appeared exceedingly penitent for all the faults which he had ever committed ; and declared that he expected salvation only through the merits of the Redeemer of mankind: but with regard to robbing the mail, he insisted that he had never been guilty of it, and that he detested the thought of such an execrable buGiness, and was totally innocent of the crime alledged against him.
These declarations he repeatedly made; and on the morning of execution, when he was called down to the press-yard, to have his irons knocked off, he was urged by the ordinary of Newgate to make an explicit confession of the crime; but, far from doing so, he still avowed his perfect innocence.
He was attended to the place of execution by immense crouds of people, who wished to hear the dying words of a man to be executed for so capital a crime, for which he would never acknowledge the justice of that verdict by which he had been condemned.
This unhappy man suffered at Tyburn, on the ist of August, 1770.
Many people have thought it impossible, and indeed humanity would suppose it so, for any man to die with a lie in his mouth; but in the case of Stretton it will be very hard to form an opinion in his favour; for, if he did not obtain the notes and drafts by robbing the mail, how did he obtain them ? If he could have given an honest account