Crime: highway robbery
Date Of Execution: 24 May 1752
Execution Place: unknown
THERE was somewhat of a noble mind in the character of Mooney, though he suffered for an ignoble action. Many of the unfortunate men whose career we trace to an untimely end, have possessed hearts worthy of a better fate. Juvenile indiscretions have paved the way to enormities; and to support an ill-acquired habit, they have been driven to commit crimes, at which their minds have revolted. Melancholy, indeed, are our pictures of such men; and, if our drawings could but save one single youth from wandering into the road to ruin, our labours would be gratified in mental retrospection.
The exposition of crimes and punishments goes to this end, and the editors sincerely, hope, that their comments will strike abhorrence in each reader against the violation of the laws, both of God and man.
Nicholas Mooney and John Jones were condemned at Bristol, for a highway robbery. When brought to the bar, to receive sentence of death, Moony, who during the trial had pleaded for his fellow culprit Jones, thus addressed the Judge;
"Permit me, again, to entreat for John Jones, whom I have inveigled and drawn into this trouble (as I have done many others before) that your Lordship will be pleased to spare his life.
"As to my own part; I have committed many robberies and have been a rebel against my king, and have wronged my country, by coining money for which I can never make the public restitution, and therefore I am content to die, as I deserve.
"I pray God to bless every one to whom I have done any wrong, and if there be any gentlemen of Bristol here, whom I have injured, I heartily ask their forgiveness, and more especially Mr. Washborough, (who stood near to the penitent culprit,) whom I attempted to murder, but God saved his life, for which I can never praise him enough."
"I desire only three Sundays, and after that time has elapsed, I am willing to launch into eternity, and I hope, when I come to the place of execution, that God will open my mouth to warn all against my wicked course of life. I pray God to bless your Lordship, and this honourable Court, and may the Lord Jesus receive my soul!"
On the 24th of May (three Sundays having passed since sentence was pronounced) Nicholas Mooney, John Jones, and William Cudmore, for returning from transportation before the time of his sentence had elapsed, were brought out of prison for execution.
When arrived at the fatal tree, Mooney, in a pathetic manner, warned the surrounding multitude against deviating from the paths of rectitude, and warned them by his untimely fate.
He left a letter to a gentleman who had been kind to him, in the following words
"Before I die, I take this opportunity of acknowledging your kindness to me in times past. Oh ! that I had deserved it; for then I had not brought myself into these circumstances. But God is wise, and seeing that; I do not hear his voice, and turn from my wicked life, he gave me up to my own heart's lust, and permitted me to fill up the measure of my iniquity, that in me at last should be shewn the severity of his justice.
"You took me, the most abandoned wretch, for an honest man; and, as such, you kindly and generously recommended me where I might have done well -- it is my own fault I did not. On Friday I am to meet the fate my crimes too justly deserve. I merit not only death, but hell; to the former man has doomed me; from the latter, Christ, I hope, will save me. Oh ! the riches of his mercy in Jesus Christ, who has made, my prison as a palace, my chains as ornaments, and I am quite happy.. I hope every one will pray for me, that my faith fail not. I am longing for death, and in firm expectation of a glorious resurrection to eternal life.
"Your most obliged and dying servant,
When his irons were taken off, he smiling, said, "Death has no sting for me," and when released from this incumbrance, he ejaculated, "I have got rid of the chain of my sins;" and he appeared cheerful. When the executioner put the rope about his neck, he said, "Welcome halter, I am saved as the thief upon the cross;" coming to the fatal tree, his expression was, "Welcome gallows, for I have deserved thee many years."
The executioner was about to tie up Jones; but, with much earnestness, Mooney exclaimed, "Tie me up first, for I am the greatest sinner;" and then said, "As the breath leaves my body, from my sincere repentance, I am confident I shall go to heaven." So saying, and we trust his words were verified, with the two, other unfortunate men, he yielded up his life; all of them hoping forgiveness in that to come.
"Parent of nature! Master of the world
Where'er thy Providence directs, behold
My steps with cheerful resignation turn,
Fate leads the willing, drags the backward on.
Why should I grieve, when grieving I must bear?
Or take with guilt, what guiltless I might share?"