The Newgate Calendar - Supplement 3

The Newgate Calendar - NICHOLAS WELLS


Burglar, Highwayman and Hired Assassin

            THIS man was a native of Kent, and, in the character of a travelling merchant, assisted his grandmother in supporting two sisters after his parents were dead. Leaving that employment, he learned the trade of a butcher. It was also his good fortune to marry a woman with an hundred and twenty pounds of portion. This might have proved a competent stock for a butcher, and he might have made a respectable figure among his honest neighbours. But Wells knew not how to husband so much money. His wife and he were pretty comfortable until the money was totally spent, which was not indeed long. Then he showed, by his conduct, that he had courted her for money, and not for love. He abandoned her company for no honourable exchange.

            Unable to pursue his own business, when all his stock was exhausted, he was constrained to drive a cart to a woodmonger. In this character, one day he went to deliver a cart of faggots to a gentleman, and, finding means to get into his parlour, he stole a gold watch, several diamonds, and two hundred and fifty guineas. With this sum in his possession, he forgot to return to his master.

            His next adventure was with the handsome Fielding, riding over Putney Heath. Wells knocked him off his gelding, tied his hands and his feet, and, robbing him of twenty guineas, burst forth into the following exclamation: "O gold almighty, thou art good for the heart-sick at night, sore eyes in the morning, and for wind in the stomach at noon; indeed, thou art a never-failing remedy for any distemper, at any time, in all cases, and for all constitutions."

            Meanwhile, Fielding recovering his senses, quoth he, "Sirrah, dost thou know on whom thou hast committed this insolence?" "Not I, nor do I care, for it is better you cry than I starve!" "I'm General Fielding, who'll make you dearly suffer for this, if ever you come into my clutches." "Art thou beau Fielding? I've heard thy fame and shame long ago: I think thou art one of those amorous coxcombs who never go without verses in praise of a mistress, and write elegies upon the mighty misfortune of losing your buttons. Thou art one of those whining puppies that waste day and night with her that you admire, taking up her gloves, and robbing her of a handkerchief, which you'll pretend to keep for her sake. In fine, let me tell you, thou art translated out of man into a whimsy." Thus, leaving beau Fielding, he went home to his landlord and landlady, who were overjoyed at seeing his booty. Nor was any member of this fraternity of villainy without a part of the spoils of Wells.

            Though our adventurer often risked his neck, yet it is said he was destitute of real courage. He would often boast that he was ready to enter the lists with those who were noted for their cowardice, when he was certain that they would not fight any man. Like every other coward, he was blood-thirsty.

            One time a woman, of the name of Elizabeth Herman, was condemned for picking the pocket of Samuel Wigfield; and such was her implacable malice, that she said she could not die satisfied unless she had the blood of her prosecutor before her death. Communicating her desire of revenge to Wells, he agreed with her to murder him for three guineas. He accordingly went to his shop, under pretence of purchasing a lock, and, watching his opportunity, when Mr. Wigfield was going home about twelve, he stabbed him through the heart, and the unfortunate man instantly fell.

            He was at last apprehended for robbing a butcher of thirty guineas, a watch, and some money. After his sentence, he confessed the fore-mentioned murder. He was executed along with one Noble, an attorney, for barbarously murdering one John Sayer, Esq.

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