Two Thieves, who were the First Criminals to be executed at Oxford
ONE of the unfortunate sufferers on this melancholy occasion was Thomas White, a daring robber, who had the temerity to break into Blenheim House, the magnificent seat of the Duke of Marlborough, built by order of Queen Anne as a mark of favour to her Generalissimo, the conqueror of Louis XIV. of France, and he who dictated the terms of peace before the gates of Paris.
White forcibly entered this strong range of buildings, and stole thereout silver plate to the value of more than five hundred pounds, with which he got off to London, where he sold it to a Jew in Houndsditch, who immediately melted it down. Of this robbery he was convicted, and sentenced to die.
The other malefactor was Walter Wyatt, a clerk to the postmaster of Witney, who had been entrusted with the sorting of letters, and the other business of the office.
In this capacity he stole letters containing bank-notes and bills to a considerable amount, for which robbery and breach of trust he was thus deservedly condemned.
A gallows and platform having been prepared within the walls of the castle, at twelve o'clock precisely the fatal procession began -- viz. six sheriff officers, armed with javelins, two and two; the executioner and sword; the two malefactors, pinioned, with white caps on their heads, between the turnkeys, armed; Redditch, a condemned criminal, but reprieved, guarded by two constables. The remainder of the felons, two and two, guarded to the place appointed for them, near the gallows, where they were compelled to be spectators of the horrible scene.
The two malefactors having ascended the platform, before which was a prodigious assemblage of spectators, they delivered up their books of devotion. The cords were then fixed, the caps pulled over their eyes, and in little more than two minutes (having themselves requested dispatch) the platform sank, and they were launched into eternity.