British Executions

Thomas Thompson

Age: unknown

Sex: male

Crime: horse stealing

Date Of Execution: 24 Oct 1748

Crime Location:

Execution Place: unknown

Method: hanging

Executioner: unknown


Executed at Tyburn, Oct. 24, 1748, for horse-stealing.

   THE parents of this offender lived at Otley in Yorkshire: his father dying, his mother and a numerous family were left in very indigent circumstances. Thomas being arrived at a proper age, the parish-officers proposed binding him apprentice; but he declined the offer, saying he should prefer going to sea with a captain who was come into the country, to visit his mother and other relations. He accompanied the captain to Durham; and the master of the post-house in that city, thinking him an active and promising youth, hired him to wait upon his customers three days in a week, and to ride post on the others. During the three years that he remained in this station, he was guilty of stealing money out of letters, and of several other acts, of delinquency, of which, however, he was not suspected until some time after he had quitted his master's service.

   From Durham he went, to Otley, but not being able to procure employment there, he proceeded to Rippon, where he was engaged as a waiter at the sign of the King's Head. In about three months; he robbed his master of thirteen pounds, and absconded. Going again to the place of his nativity, he learnt that an aunt lately deceased had bequeathed him twelve pounds and having received the legacy, and purchased some new apparel, set out for London, where in a short. time he spent all his money in disorderly houses, among women of ill fame. Being in circumstances of distress, he, made application for relief to a relation, who behaved to him with great tenderness and generosity: notwithstanding which he availed himself of an opportunity of robbing his benefactor of two silver spoons.

   He offered the. spoons for sale to a silversmith near Charing-cross; but his honesty being suspected, a messenger was dispatched to inquire whether he lived at the place he had mentioned to the shop-keeper. Before the messenger's return Thompson effected his escaped ; and it appeared that he had given a false direction. In a few days he was met near Exeter-change by the silversmith, who insisted upon his going home with him; but being a man of an easy disposition, he was prevailed upon by the entreaties of the young villain to favour his escape.

   He now returned to Otley, and a dancing meeting being held there one evening; he made one of the company: at this place he prevailed upon a young woman, to consent to his partaking to her bed; but she dismissed him upon discovering that he was destitute of money. Thus disappointed, he returned to the house where he lodged, and broke open a box, whence he stole fifteen shillings.

   Early the next morning he stole a horse, and rode his late master's at Durham, where he said he was employed to go to Newcastle on some business of importance, and should return on the following day. The inn-keeper believed his tale, and upon his repeating his visit the next day, gave him a hearty welcome, and expressed much pleasure at the seemingly favourable change in his situation. In the morning, however, the boy who had been with the mail to Darlington, informed Thompson that the hue-and-cry was after him on suspicion of horse-stealing. In consequence of this intelligence he took the road for Scotland, and selling the stolen horse at Berwick-upon-Tweed, proceeded on foot to Cockburn, and hiring a horse there, rode to Dunbar where having slept one night, he se out for Edinburgh in a post-chaise.

   At Edinburgh he pretended to be servant to a military officer, and persuaded a young woman, who was servant at the inn where he lodged, to admit him to a share of her bed. In the morning she discovered that her box had been broken open, and her money, besides two gold rings bequeathed her by a relation; stolen thereout. She accused Thompson of the robbery, and threatened a prosecution; but was appeased upon his restoring the effects.

   His next expedition was to Perth, where he engaged himself as a servant to a military officer, His master being ordered into Yorkshire upon the recruiting service, Thompson accompanied him: but thinking it unsafe to remain in a part of the country where he was well known, he stole a horse about eleven o'clock at night, and took the road to Nottingham. For this offence he was tried at the next assizes, and sentenced to die; but interest being made in his favour, he received a pardon on condition of transportation for fourteen years.

   As he behaved in a remarkably decent and regular manner, the keeper of the prison granted him many indulgences, which he determined to seize an opportunity of making use of to his own advantage; and accordingly observing that on some occasion the maid-servant was intrusted with the keys, he seized her by surprise, and taking them from her recovered his liberty,

   Upon his escape from prison he proceeded to London, where be inlisted into a regiment then abroad, and was conducted to the Savoy: but being soon after attacked by a fever, he was sent to an hospital. Being tolerably recovered in about two months, he deserted, and going to Rochester inlisted into a regiment lying in that city. About five weeks after his arrival in Rochester, he robbed the waiter of the house where he was quartered, and again deserting travelled to Hatfield in Hertfordshire, where he inlisted into a regiment, from which he also deserted in about six weeks. He now went to Chichester, and having there entered into his majesty's service as a marine, was ordered on board a ship, lying at Portsmouth. In about two months he was ordered on shore, and quartered in Chichester, where he robbed his lodgings, and having stolen a mare belonging to a farmer rode towards the metropolis.

   The farmer having a value for the beast hastened to London, expecting that she would be exposed for sale in Smithfield. He put up at the White Bear in Basinghall-street, and there found both his mare and the man who had stolen her. Thompson being taken before the Lord Mayor, was committed for trial at the Old Bailey, where he was convicted, and sentenced to die.

   When he was confined in the cells of Newgate, he appeared to be struck with a consciousness of the enormity of his guilt. He constantly attended divine service in the chapel; and when visited by the ordinary behaved in a manner that evinced the sincerity of his repentance.