Highwayman, executed at Tyburn, on the 23rd of December, 1715.
At the age of nine years he was placed at Merchant Taylor's School, whence he was removed to the care of Dr. Shorter, under whom he obtained a tolerable proficiency in the Latin and Greek languages.
Having made choice of the profession of a surgeon, he was bound at Surgeon's Hall, to a gentleman equally eminent for his skill and piety; but giving early proofs of the wildness of his disposition, his master predicted the fatal consequence that would ensue.
Powel's father and mother dying soon after he was bound, and his master, when he had served six years of his time, he was wholly at his own disposal: a circumstance that led to his ruin. He was at this time only eighteen years of age, and hitherto had not kept any company that was notoriously wicked. Going now to see a young woman who was related to him, she fancied a ring which he had on his finger, and wished he would exchange it for hers, which he did; but it appearing to be of less value than she imagined, she was base enough, on the following morning, to have him seized in his bed, as a proper person to serve the king; and without being permitted to send for any friend, he was sent into Flanders as a foot-soldier.
He twice deserted from the regiment in which he served; but the intercession of some of his officers saved him from the customary punishment. When he had been a soldier about three years, the regiment was quartered at Nieuport, between Dunkirk and Ostend, whence he again deserted, in company with seven other men, who travelled into Holland, where they em barked on board a ship bound to England, and being landed at Burlington in Yorkshire, Powel came to London.
Being arrived in the metropolis, he found that he had not one acquaintance left who was able and willing to assist him; so that he repented having deserted from the army, being reduced to such a situation that he saw no prospect before him but either to beg or steal. The first he despised as a mean occupation, and the latter he dreaded as equally destructive to his soul and body.
Hereupon he applied for employment as a porter, and worked at the water-side, till a fellow induced him to be concerned in stealing some goods, for which the other was hanged.
About this time Powel married a young woman of strict virtue, who finding some irregularity in his behaviour, warned him to avoid all evil courses, as they must infallibly end in his destruction.
On the 15th of October, 1715, he went as far as South Mims, in Hertfordshire, where he stopped Sarah Maddocks on the highway, and robbed her of two shillings and sixpence; for which offence he was apprehended, and being tried at the Old Bailey in the following month, he was convicted, received sentence of death, and was executed at Tyburn, on the 23d of December, 1715.
Just before his going to the place of execution, he delivered a paper to the Ordinary of Newgate, in which were the following passages: "I account this ignominious death as a just judgment for my sins against the Divine Majesty and my neighbour; and therefore patiently resign myself to his blessed will, and hope (with true repentance and a steadfast faith in Christ Jesus,) he will seal my pardon in heaven, before I go hence, and be no more seen; and I bless God I have had more consolation under my condemnation, than ever I had these many years; and I hope that those who survive me will take warning by my fatal end.
"I have this comfort, that no man can accuse me of enticing him to the commission of such acts; especially one person, who has accused me of it since my condemnation; but for the value I have for him, I'll omit his name, and desire him to take warning by me; being resolved within myself, that if God had prolonged my days, I would relinquish all such courses."