British Executions

John Sweetbones

Age: unknown

Sex: male

Crime: murder

Date Of Execution: 25 Feb 1717

Crime Location:

Execution Place: unknown

Method: hanging

Executioner: unknown


John Sweetbones of Acton , was indicted for breaking the Dwelling-house of William Trafford , and stealing from thence a Holland Shirt, value 5 s. a Cloath Wastcoat, val.4 s. the 8th of April , last. The Prosecutor deposed, That the Wall, of his House was broken, and the Goods taken away; that his Daughter saw him with the Stockings on his Legs and his Shirt on his Back. The Constable and his Assistant deposed, That when they apprehended him, he confest the Wastcoat, and promised, that, if they would let him go, the Prosecutor should have his Wastcoat, and he would never come to Acton more that it was produced, and after he was very desperate and mischievously bent, attempting to catch up a Hedging-Bill, and afterwards catched up a Smoothing-Plain, and knocking out the Chisel, swore he would Split the Man down that should come near him, and at last made his Escape out at the Window.

He was a Second time indicted for an Assault and Murder committed on the body of John Mims , by giving him one mortal Wound with a Hammer on the Left side of his Head, of the length of one Inch, and the depth of a quarter of an Inch, on the 22d of December last, of which he languished till the 24th, and then dyed . Thomas Peacock deposed, about 6 of the Clock in the Evening, the 22nd of December last, his Son having been out, told him he heard a Hollowing in the Field; upon which he went out and heard it, and the Hollowing still continued; he thought at last it must be somebody in Distress, and went to get some Neighbours to go with him, but they all refusing, he did not go; but the Hollowing still continuing he was confirmed in his Opinion, and observed that the voice grew weaker and weaker , took a Candle and Lanthorn and Pitchfork and prevailed with one to go with him: so having Company he made towards the place where the Voice was, and found Mr. Mims standing leaning upon the Stile, all over of a gore Blood; his Pockets were turned inside out, his Shirt.

out, and he seemed to have been dragg'd along the Ground, where he supposed the Person, who left him in that Condition, thought they left him Dead; but he recovering himself, had gotten in the Stile. By that time they got up to him he was Spent, and they endeavouring to lead him home between them, before they had got him 4 Yards he fainted; and asking him who had made him in that Condition, he had only Strength to say one, and said no more; they with much Difficulty got him home, being then Saturday-night, and on the Monday he dyed. Thomas deposed, That a little before 5 of the Clock he met the Deceased, about a Mile and half from that place, going home, and had a Hat on when he met him; which Hat was found in the Custody of Christopher Barnel , who deposed, that he bought that Hat the Day before Christmas day of Elizabeth Lewis . Elizabeth Lewis deposed, that Hat was flung down into the Cellar of Elizabeth Alloway . Elizabeth Alloway deposed, that she found it going down into her Cellar, and that Sweetbones said the Hat was his and he flung it down there out of Roguery. Mr. Prince and his Wife, in St. Giles, where he lodged, deposed, That the Prisoner went away on the Friday the 21st, and said he was going to Acton , to see his Mother, and came home about 8 of the Clock at Night on Saturday the 22d. Elizabeth Lewis deposed, That when the Prisoner went away on Friday the 21st, be said he had no Money, and he borrow'd 6 d. of her. They deposed likewise, that when he came home he asked Mrs. Prince what he owned her, she told him, he gave her a Guinea to change, out of which she received between 16 and 17 s. and then he gave her a Guinea to lay by for him. He said his Mother had given him that Mony, i.e. two Guineas out of 3. They deposed like wife, that his Sleeve of his Frock was torn almost off, and his Hands all Bloody: they asked him how he came to be so, he replyed that he had been Fighting with a Friend that he loved as dearly as his own Brother in St. James's Hay. Market. They ask'd him how he happened to have 2 Hats, he told them, that he had taken his Friends Hat and his own too. This was likewise deposed by one Mr. Cheesebrook. Mary Beal , Grandaughter to the Deceased, swore positively, that which was the Prisoner, and which he owned to be his, was a Key of her Grandfathers that he usually carryed in his Pocket, the Prisoner in his defence denyed he had been at Acton; he said that he had the Mony of his Mother In the Hay-market; likewise, that the Hat was the Hat of his Friend (who he said was his Cousin,) and with whom he had been fighting; that the Key was his own, and he had had it 5 Years. Being asked, why he did not produce that Friend with whom he had been Fighting, he said he was gone to Scotland. Edward Parks deposed, that the 16th of January he lifted the Prisoner as a Dragoon; that hearing of his being like to be charg'd with this Murther, advised him to go down to the Reigment; but he answered, he had done nothing, and did not fear. After a full hearing of these Matters, the Jury acquitted him.

He was a Third time indicted for Robbing John Mims , and taking from him a Hat, value 7 s. and a Key, val.1 s. the 22d of December last. Thomas Ogaleshaw , the Hattor, who sold the Deceased the Hat, deposed; he saw the Deceased with this Hat upon his Head a little before he was murdered, and about a mile and half from the place, Christopher Farnel deposed, he bought that Hat the Monday before Christmas day of Mrs. Lewis. Mrs. Lewis deposed, that Elizabeth Allaway brought this Hat out of her Cellar. Elizabeth Alloway deposed, that the Hat which John Sweetbones , the Prisoner, throwd down her Cellar, she fold to Christopher Farmel . Mary Beal , the Deceased's Gandaughter, swore positively that the Key produc'd in Court was her Grandfathers John Mins's Key. John Peacock deposed, he had try'd that Key and it did open and appear'd to be the Key of the Deceased's Box, where his Writings and such things Lay. His Mother being in Court could not swear that she had given him any Mony, but only said his Sister told her that she had given it him. Upon the whole, he not being able to prove any one thing he had said, nor say any thing but what he had said upon the last Indictment, the Jury found him guilty of This.

Old Bailey Proceedings Online (, version 6.0, 10 October 2011), February 1717, trial of John Sweetbones (t17170227-51).