British Executions

John Stern

Age: unknown

Sex: male

Crime: murder

Date Of Execution: 10 Mar 1682

Crime Location:

Execution Place: unknown

Method: hanging

Executioner: unknown



Foreigners who murdered Thomas Thynn, Esq., in Pall Mall, on behalf, it was alleged, of Count Coningsmark. Executed 10th of March, 1682

 CHRISTOPHER VRATZ, the youngest son of a very good gentleman, and born in Pomerania, a country adjoining Poland, having but a very small patrimony left him, he was incited, through the slenderness of his fortune, to betake himself to the highway; and, being a man of great courage and undaunted spirit, he ventured on such attempts by himself which would not be undertaken by half-a-dozen men; for once John Sobieski, King of Poland, who, with the Duke of Lorraine, raised the siege of Vienna, going disguised out of the Christian camp, in company only with three officers, to observe the motion of the Turks, he intercepted his coming back, and robbed him and his attendants of as many diamonds, which he sold to a Jew at Vienna for above eight thousand ducatoons, besides taking from them a considerable quantity of gold. He had also committed some robberies in Hungary; but, having somewhat of a more generous soul than always to get his bread by that diminutive way of living, he was, contrary to all others of that profession, not extravagant whilst he maintained himself by those scaring words, "Stand and deliver;" therefore having saved a good purse by him, he bought a captain's commission in a regiment in the Emperor of Germany's service.

 Whilst he was in this post he became acquainted with Charles John, Count Coningsmark, and came over with him into England; where the said Count, being balked in his amours with a certain Lady Ogleby Thomas Thynn, Esq., his ill success therein he so highly resented that nothing could pacify his resentment but the death of his rival. Captain Vratz being made privy to his disgust procured two other assassins —- namely, John Stern, a lieutenant, and George Borosky alias Boratzi —- who, about a quarter after eight at night, on Sunday, the 12th of February, 1681, meeting Esquire Thynn riding in his coach up to St James's Street, from the Countess of Northumberland's, Borosky, a Polander, shot him with a blunderbuss, which mortified him after such a barbarous manner that Mr Hobbs, an eminent chirurgeon, found in his body four bullets, which had torn his guts, wounded his liver and stomach and gall, broke one of his ribs, and wounded the great bone below, of which wounds he died.

 These murderers being taken the next day, and carried before justice Bridgman, he committed them to Newgate; from whence being brought to the Old Bailey on Tuesday, the 28th of February following, they were tried before the Lord Chief Justice Pemberton, before a jury half English and half foreigners (all three prisoners being foreign).

 The jury, after retiring half-an-hour, brought in the three principals guilty, but acquitted the Count of the charge of procuring the others to commit the murder. He was ordered, however, to enter into a recognizance with three sureties, to appear the next sessions, and answer any appeal that might be brought by Mr Thynn's relations. The other three being brought to the bar again, and asked what they had to say why sentence of death should not be passed upon them, Vratz insisted he had not had a fair trial, and Stern said it was for Captain Vratz's sake he was concerned in the fact. And as to Borosky, he did not pretend to make any apology for the murder, considering himself to be under an obligation of obeying his superiors without reserve.

 Whereupon sentence of death was pronounced upon the principals by the recorder, the judges having left the bench. Dr Gilbert Burnet writes thus of Captain Vratz: It is certain that never man died with more resolution and less signs of fear, or the least disorder. His carriage in the cart, both as he was led along and at the place of execution, was astonishing; he was not only undaunted, but looked cheerful, and smiled often. When the rope was put about his neck he did not change colour nor tremble; his legs were firm under him. He looked often about on those who stood in balconies and windows, and seemed to fix his eyes on some persons. Three or four times he smiled . He would not cover his face as the rest did, but continued in that state, often looking up to heaven, with a cheerfulness in his countenance, and a little motion of his hands. I asked him if he had anything to say to the people. He said "No." After he had whispered a short word to a gentleman, he was willing the rope should be tied to the gibbet. He called for the German minister; but the crowd was such that it was not possible for him to come near. So he desired me to pray with him in French; but I told him I could not venture to pray in that language, but, since he understood English, I would pray in English. I observed he had some touches in his mind when I offered up that petition that for the sake of the blood of Christ the innocent blood shed in that place might be forgiven and that the cry of the one for mercy might prevail over the cry of the other for justice.

 At these words he looked up to heaven with the greatest sense that I had at any time observed in him. After I prayed he said nothing but that he was now going to be happy with God; so I left him. He continued in his undaunted manner, looking up often to heaven, and sometimes round about him, to the spectators. After he and his two fellow-sufferers had stood about a quarter of an hour under the gibbet they were asked when they would give the signal for their being turned off. He answered that they were ready, and that the cart might be driven away when it pleased the sheriff to order it. So, a little while after, it was driven away. And thus they all ended their lives.

 As for Lieutenant Stern, the illegitimate son of a baron of Sweden, afterwards made a count, and Borosky the Polander, they were very penitent from first to last, being with Captain Vratz, aged thirty-eight, executed in the Pall Mall on Friday, the 10th of March, 1682; but Borosky was afterwards hung up in chains, a little beyond Mile End, by the command of King Charles II.

 Mr Echard gives us the following account of Lady Ogle, —- "Josceline, late Earl of Northumberland, of the family of Percy, dying in the year 1670, left no issue but the Lady Elizabeth, his daughter and sole heir (at the time of his death about four years of age), who, possessing a great fortune, was in her minority married to Henry, Earl of Ogle, son and heir to the Duke of Newcastle, who, dying soon after, left her a virgin widow; after which many people of the first quality made their addresses to her, and among the rest Count Coningsmark, whose pretensions, it is said, were countenanced by the King. But the young lady, by her grandmother's contrivance, was married privately, the summer before the accident happened, to Mr Thynn, a gentleman of ten-thousand-pounds-a-year estate, who had been a member of several Parliaments and made some figure both within the House and out of it. But whether the lady herself did not approve of the match, or was put upon it by others, she privately went over to Holland in Michaelmas Term, 1681, before Mr Thynn had ever cohabited with her."