An Italian Nobleman, executed at Tyburn for the Murder of his Servant, 17th of March, 1718.
The Marquis de Paleotti stabbing his Servant
THIS nobleman was the head of a noble family in Italy, and was brought to a disgraceful death through the vice of gambling, with all the aggravated horrors of suffering in a strange country; thus doubly disgracing the honours of his house.
Ferdinando Marquis de Paleotti was born at Bologna. In the reign of Queen Anne he was a colonel in the Imperial army. Quitting the army at the Peace of Utrecht, he visited England to see his sister; and being fond of an extravagant course of life, and attached to gaming, he soon ran into debt for considerable sums. His sister paid his debts for some time, till she found it would be a burdensome and endless task; and she therefore declined all further interference. Though she declined to assist him as usual, he continued his former course of life till he was imprisoned for debt; but his sister privately procured his liberty, and he was discharged without knowing who had conferred the favour on him.
The habits of the Marquis, however, were in nowise changed, and one day, while walking in the street, he directed his servant, an Italian, to go and borrow some money. The servant, having met with frequent denials, declined going; on which the Marquis drew his sword and killed him on the spot.
He was instantly apprehended and committed to prison and being tried at the next sessions was convicted on full evidence, and received sentence of death. But the Duke of Shrewsbury, his sister's husband, being dead, and the Duchess having little interest or acquaintance in England, it appears that no endeavours were used to save him from the punishment which awaited him, and he was executed at Tyburn, on the 17th of March, 1718.
Italian pride had taken deep root in the mind of this man. He declared it to be disgraceful to this country to put a nobleman to death, like a common malefactor, for killing his servant; and lamented that our churches, as in Italy, did not offer a sanctuary for murderers. Englishmen, however, are thankful that neither of this Marquis' desires prevail in their country, where the law makes no distinction in offenders. To the last moment the pride of aristocracy was predominant in his mind. he petitioned the sheriffs that his body should not be defiled by touching the unhappy Englishmen doomed to suffer with him, and that he might die before them, and alone. The sheriffs, in courtesy to a stranger, granted this request, and thus, in his last struggle, he maintained the superiority of his rank. Vain man! of what avail were his titles in the presence of the almighty?