Crime: stealing sheep
Date Of Execution: 22 May 1722
Execution Place: unknown
Executed at Tyburn, May 22, 1722, for Horse-stealing.
William Burridge was born in Northamptonshire, and served his apprenticeship to a carpenter; but being of a wild disposition, his friends determined on sending him to sea; accordingly they got him rated as a midshipman, and he sailed to the coast of Spain; but soon quitting the naval service, he returned to England, and commencing highwayman, committed many robberies on the road to Hampstead, on Finchley Common, and in the neighbourhood of Hammersmith. When he first began the practice of robbing, he formed a resolution to retire when he had acquired as much money as would support him: but this time never arrived; for finding his success by no means proportioned to his expectations, he became one of the gang under Jonathan Wild, of infamous memory; and was for a considerable time screened from justice by that celebrated master of thieves.
Burridge being confined in New Prison for a capital offence, broke out of that gaol; and he was repeatedly an evidence at the Old Bailey, by which means his associates suffered the rigour of the law. At length having offended Wild, the latter marked him down as one doomed to suffer at the next execution after the ensuing sessions at the Old Bailey; which was a common practice with Wild when he grew tired of his dependants, or thought they could be no longer serviceable to him. Alarmed by this circumstance, Burridge fled into Lincolnshire, where he stole a horse, and brought it to London, intending to sell it at Smithfield for present support; but the gentleman who lost the horse having sent a full description of it to London, Burridge was seen riding on it through the street, and watched to a livery-stable. Some persons going to take him, he produced a brace of pistols, threatening destruction to any me who came near him; by which he got off; but being immediately pursued, he was apprehended in May-Fair, and lodged in Newgate.
On his trial, a man and a woman swore that they saw him purchase the horse; but as there was a material difference in their stories, the court was of opinion that they had been hired to swear, and the judge gave directions for their being taken into custody for the perjury. The jury did not hesitate to find Burridge guilty; and after sentence was passed, his behaviour was extremely devout and he encouraged the devotion of others in like unhappy circumstances. He suffered in the 34th year of his age; having first warned the spectators to be obedient to their parents and masters, and to beware of the crime of debauching young women, which had first led him from the path of duty, and finally terminated in his ruin.