Date Of Execution: 17 Mar 1717
Execution Place: unknown
SPEECH and Dying Words
James Shepherd who was Exceuted for
S I R,
I Had not Room in my last to reply to your chief Arguments in Defence of your murdering Pupil,
Viz. That a Publick National Price has been twice set on the Head of the Pretender, whom
you call your Lawful Soveraign, this is another glaring instance of your want of Sense; be-
cause the Argument makes against you, even tho' it could be prov'd, which is simply impossible,
that the Pretender is your Lawful King ; for you ought to remember, that you said the Pretender
had expesly forbiden and Disclaimed all such attempts in his Declaration upon his going to Scotland;
which is a fair Confession that you and your Pupil wanted the Authority of your supossed King, nor
can you so much as pretend to the Authority even of a mock Parliament, which really alters the Case,
for hear by your own Confession the National Authority has twice condemned your Pretender to be
dealt with as a Trayter, and an nnjust invader, We know that the first price was set upon his Head
by the late Queen ANN, whose Memory you pretended to revere while you thought it could be of
use to animate your High Church Mob against the present Government, ( but now thanks be to GOD )
your Villanious Principles and Designs to Murder even her, are fairly discovered by the Dexterity of
Mr. Lerrain, who put that pertinent Question to your Pupil in the hearing of all that were present
whither he would have Killed the Queen had he in her Lifetime the power. and the same perswasion't
To which he answered very readily and impudently that he would; But yon had taught him the Jesu-
iitcal Art of Quibling & Desembling so perfectly , that when he perceived the People about him suprized
at that Villanious Expression, he endeavoured to recan it, and said. perhaps he would not have done it
because she was a Woman who Governed not her self but others did it for her. And that this Assassinating
Principlesis entertained by your Party, was also happily difcovered by Mr. Lorraign, who putting the
Question to Shephert's Consessor, whither he did not think in his Conscience that shephert ought pub-
lickly to Consess this horrid Crime and beg Pardon for it. His Confessor answered No, and at the
same time said, that he found Shepherd in a very good State.
This Charge was long ago proved upon your Pary, when the None juring Priests Cook and Snat
were committed to Newgate for absolving those at the Gallows that were Condemned for a dosign to
Assassinate King William of Glorious Memory, without demanding any acknowledgement of their
Crimes or prosession or Repentance for it, and Collier who was also one of the Absolvers, would have
had the same Fate, had he not fled, This is enough to justify the setting a Prise upon the Head of the
Pretender, for whose sake and that of his suposed Father, all these Assassinations were undertaken,
there was sufficient Evidence then, that the late French King, and the late King James encouraged
these barbarous Designs, and whatever you had said to the contrary, no Body has reason to believe,
bat that the Pretender is instructed in the same Principles, since he is an incurable Biggot to the Church
Rome, which he has publickly declared that 'tis lawful to Murder Heriticks. France and Ireland
as well as other places of Europe have found the Truth of this by woful Experience, and that your
Factions entertains the same Villanious maxims, is evident by Sheperds declaring to Mr. Lorraign that
he thought it no Crime to Kill King George or any of his Friends, which is Demonstrations of your
inclinations, had you power to effect it.
We the Grand Jury for Middlesex, do pre ent that Cookand Collier did take upon them to give Ab
solution to Sir John's and Sir William Perkius at Tyburn immediatly before they had severally de-
livered a Paper to the Shirriff, wherein they have severally endeavoured to justify the Treason for
which they were justly Condemned and Execute. and that the said Cook and Snat having thereby
countenanced the same Treasons for which the said Perkins and Jown's were both Execute to the
great cncouragement of other Persons to commit the like Treason, and the scandle of the Church of
England established by Law, and to the disturbance of the Peace of the Kingdom, that the World
may see what honest Fellows these None-juring Shamm makers were, I think fit to inform you that
Cook one of them had been convicted of Forging the Lord Notinghams Hand and Seal to a Pass for
One Demsion who was going to France, so that tis no new thing for such as you and your Priests to
forge Papers and Speeches as well as Counterfit Passes.
EDINBURGH Printed in the Year 1718.
This broadside begins: 'THE LAST SPEECH and Dying Words of James Shepherd who was Exceuted for high Treason.' A note at the bottom of the broadside informs the reader that it was printed in Edinburgh in 1718.
High treason was considered at this time to be the most serious of captial crimes. Any activities that were deemed a betrayal of one's country and were thought to pose a serious threat to the monarchy were considered treasonous and, as such, carried a severe penalty. Men found guilty of high treason were hung, drawn and quartered. This involved the man being dragged or drawn to the gallows, hanged and cut down whilst still alive, his stomach cut open and entrails removed and burned, his head cut off and body divided into four parts. The head and four parts were often put on public display to act as a deterrent. For the same crime, women were burnt at the stake.
Reports recounting dark and salacious deeds were popular with the public, and, like today's sensationalist tabloids, sold in large numbers. Crimes could generate sequences of sheets covering descriptive accounts, court proceedings, last words, lamentations and executions as they occurred. As competition was fierce, immediacy was paramount, and these occasions provided an opportunity for printers and patterers to maximise sales.