Not All Equal Before the Law

This is another piece from The Life of Silas Told, about the condemned men Morgan, Whalley, Brett and Dupree:

“They all agreed upon a party of pleasure, at the election of a Member for Chelmsford, in Essex; and after they had glutted themselves with immoderate eating and drinking, they consented to divert themselves by going out upon the road, and robbing the first person they should meet. A farmer chanced to pass, whom they attacked and robbed of all his money. The farmer having met with assistance, pursued them into Chelmsford, where they were secured, and removed to London. Here they were cast, received the sentence of death, and ordered for execution. Mr Brett was the son of an eminent Divine in Dublin; Whalley, a gentleman of considerable fortune; Dupree was also a gentleman; and Morgan, an officer on board one of His Majesty’s ships of war. The last of these was frequently visited by Lady B.H., (the Duke of Hamilton’s daughter) both before and after sentence. As I was often present with them at their several interviews in Newgate, I understood, if this affair had not happened, Mr Morgan ad Lady Betty were to have been married in a very short time.

This lady went daily to HIs Majesty, as did also others who had great influence, and pleaded with His Majesty for the life of Mr Morgan; but His Majesty, considering it a point of injustice, as well as partiality, would by no means attend to her petitions. Besides, as they were all persons of fortune, and could not plead necessity. His Majesty said, his subjects were not to be put in fear, and to suffer the loss of their property, merely through a wanton whim. However, the morning before the execution, Lady B.H. appeared before His Majesty, and fell upon her knees. “My Lady,” said His Majesty, “there is no end to your importunity; I will spare his life, upon condition that he be not acquainted therewith till he arrives at the place of execution.” Accordingly, Brett, Whalley, and Dupree were tied up to the allows; the other cart with Morgan, and 2 other gentlemen, followed; but the Sheriff, upon ordering he coach to stop, produced the respite sent to Morgan from His Majesty. It is hard to express the alarm this made among the multitude; and when I turned round and saw one of the prisoners out of the cart, falling to the ground, he having fainted away at the sudden news, I was instantly seized with terror, as I thought it was a rescue rather than a reprieve; but when I beheld Morgan put into a coach, and perceived that Lady betty Hamilton was seated therein, in order to receive him, my fear was at an end. ”



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