Hanged for Housebreaking, on 27th of May, 1771, before he had attained the Age of Sixteen
THIS ill-fated youth was the son of a poor man at Shields, near Newcastle, who brought him to London while he was quite a child. His father dying in a short time, the boy was left to the care or, perhaps, more properly speaking, to the neglect of his mother, who was a woman of very doubtful character, and was said to encourage young lads in the practice of theft.
M'Cloud had been connected with a lad named Younger, who had been concerned with him in a variety of irregular practices. At length M'Cloud engaged himself on board one of the colliers trading to Newcastle; and, while he was absent, Younger accused his mother of having been the receiver of stolen goods, the consequence of which was that she was apprehended, and brought to trial, but was discharged in defect of evidence.
When M'Cloud returned from his voyage, and learned in what manner his mother had been treated by Younger, he made the most solemn vow of taking vengeance on him, whatever might be the consequence of such a procceding.
That he might effect the ruin of his old companion in iniquity he surrendered himself to a magistrate, and gave information that he and Younger had been concerned in a robbery; on which the latter was soon taken into custody, and committed to Newgate, M'Cloud being admitted an evidence for the Crown against his presumed accomplice. But at the ensuing sessions M'Cloud was incapable of giving anything like evidence against his companion, who was of course acquitted, and the scheme of revenge was consequently frustrated.
It is no less astonishing than true that, notwithstanding what had passed, these young fellows soon renewed their former connection; so that whatever degree of malice might have harboured in the breast of M'Cloud, he seemed to have forgotten it in the wish to recommence his depredations on the public with his former accomplice in iniquity.
They now joined, with five or six other boys, in the practice of picking pockets, in which, for some time, they met with too much success; but their thefts were of the lowest kind, being principally confined to the stealing of handkerchiefs, in the practice of which they were frequently detected, but dismissed after receiving the discipline of the horse-pond. M'Cloud, in particular, had been so often dragged through horse-ponds, and exposed to the derision of the public, that he seemed to have lost all sense of shame, and his paltry gains by theft consoled him for the ignominy that attended it. He was three times tried at the Old Bailey for different offences, and had repeatedly the good fortune to escape.
At length, after a series of lessons in the picking of pockets, the gang of young villains determined to commence housebreaking, for which they were qualified not so much by their strength as by their artifice. They furnished themselves with a variety of tools proper for the wrenching of doors and window-shutters. Occasionally they would climb over roofs, enter at the garret windows of houses, and descend to the lower rooms to commit their robberies; and at other times they would enter through any small opening that had been casually left unguarded.
At length three of the gang, of whom M'Cloud was one, repaired to Poplar, where they broke open the house of Joseph Hankey, Esq., in the dead of night. The family were all asleep; but the barking of a dog awoke one of the servants, who alarmed the rest, and begged them to oppose the intruders. Two of the thieves made an immediate escape, but M'Cloud was apprehended, and lodged in the watch-house.
On the following day he was carried before a magistrate, who committed him to Newgate, and at the next sessions held at the Old Bailey he was brought to trial, capitally convicted, and sentenced to die.
When he arrived at the fatal tree he requested a person to beg that his mother would not unreasonably grieve at his death, as he had hopes that he was departing to the regions of eternal glory. He suffered at Tyburn, on the 27th of May, 1771, in the sixteenth year of his age.