British Executions

Jocelin Harwood

Age: 23

Sex: male

Crime: murder

Date Of Execution: 1 Jan 1692

Crime Location:

Execution Place: unknown

Method: hanging

Executioner: unknown


Highwayman, who committed such Barbarous Murders that his Associates gave him up to Justice. Executed in 1692

JOCELIN HARWOOD was a degenerate plant from a good tree. His father was honest —- moderately rich, and of undoubted reputation; and the greatest misfortune of his life was his having a child so unworthy of him. Jocelin was born in the year 1669, at Wateringbury, in Kent, where he was educated with all the caution necessary in such cases. When he grew towards seventeen years of age he ran away from his father, carrying off with him about sixty pounds. When he had wasted what he took from his father in luxury and wantonness he made no scruple of getting more in the same dishonest way. Being now in London, also, he had every disadvantage that a young man can have who has given way a little to the allurements of vice. His money brought him into bad company, and then that bad company persuaded him to seek for more money. He submitted at first only to pilfering and picking of pockets, which he followed for about three years, and then he resolved to move in a higher sphere, make a greater blaze in the world for a time, and receive his fate, when it came, with more honour.

The ill success of his first adventure on the highway was enough to have reformed him, and deterred him from ever attempting the like again. He had stolen a horse, bridle, saddle, holsters and pistols, with which he set out on Black-Heath, and was so hardy as to order two men at once to stand and deliver. The gentlemen engaged him, shot his new horse, and had certainly taken him, if the wounds they had received in the encounter had not disabled them from exerting themselves. Harwood was terribly frightened at the bravery of his antagonists, and was glad he could get off with only the loss of a horse.

Jocelin continued to rob on the highway for about two or three years, during which time he lived in all manner of excess, passing from county to county as it suited either his pleasure or his safety.

The last and worst action of his life was committed at the house of Sir Nehemiah Burroughs, in Shropshire, where he was informed of an immense treasure in plate and money. In company with two more he went one night and broke open this house, gagging and binding all the servants as fast as they could get into their chambers. When the rest of the family was secure he went to the knight and bound him and his lady; then going into his daughters' room, one of the young ladies said to Harwood: "Pray, sir, use us civilly; which if you do, we will use you in the same manner, in case you and your companions should be taken; for I am sure we shall know you again." "Shall you so?" said the inhuman wretch. "I'll take care then to prevent your doing any mischief."; Upon this he cut them both in pieces with his hanger, and then running into the old people's room again —- "What," says he, "and do you know me too?" They told him no. "D —--n you," said he, "you are only a little more artful than your daughters, but I shan't trust you." Then he run them both through, and left them wallowing in their blood, seeming as well satisfied as if he had done a meritorious deed.

His companions were so astonished at the barbarity of this fellow that they stood like stocks, unable either to prevent him in his bloody attempts, or to apprehend him for them on the place, which latter they had most mind to. But the horror continued so strong on their minds that, though they were both old offenders themselves, they could not help exposing him to justice as soon as they had left the house of this unhappy family. Being on the road, one of them by agreement shot his horse, and then they joined to bind him hand and foot, and leave him on the ground, with a piece of the knight's plate by his side, telling him it was but a just requital for his inhumanity.

The next day, an inquiry being made all over the country, he was found in the condition he had been left by his companions. He was sent under a strong guard to Shrewsbury jail, where he behaved very audaciously. At his trial he was even so impudent as to spit in the faces of the judge and jury, and talk to them without any regard to decency. The matter of fact being plainly proved against him, he was condemned to be first hanged on the gallows till he was dead, and then to have his body hanged in chains on a gibbet for a public spectacle. This sentence made no impression on him; so that he continued the same horrid course of oaths, profaneness and blasphemies till his death. When he was at the gallows, with a steady countenance he said that he should act the same murder again, in the same case.?quotes? This was all he would say to anybody. It is shocking to think that such a wretch should be but twenty- three years of age at the time of his death, which was in the year 1692.