Crime: petty larceny
Date Of Execution: 22 Jan 1673
Execution Place: Tyburn
In a time with scant social mobility for women, Carleton — which is the name by which she’s been remembered although she was born “Mary Moders” — carved it out with the tools at her disposal, which makes her an irresistible academic subject.*
Carleton/Moders is nearly the anti-Martin Guerre: whereas the male Arnaud du Tilh subsumed his own identity to insinuate himself into the existing social part of “Martin Guerre”, Mary Carleton’s shifty identity excised her from the social circumstances that would otherwise define her. (She was even reported to have taking to masculine cross-dressing.) Paradoxically, her fictitious biography enabled her to be taken for her own self, which explains why she stuck with her blank-slate “German origins” backstory after it had been publicly discredited.
And after the stage gig had run its course and her identity become disposable once again, she easily resumed her marital perambulations.
Mary Jo Kietzman called Carleton’s life “self-serialization.” The Newgate Calendar sanctimoniously records some of her adventures.
After a few years below the Restoration radar, Carleton was caught up for petty larceny and given a death sentence commuted to penal transportation to Jamaica. (England had just seized it from Spain during Cromwell‘s Protectorate.)
Two years later, she returned to England — not the only one to prefer the danger of Tyburn to the rigors (and obscurity) of the colonies.
She could only live as herself at the peril of her life. And on this day, she clinched her lasting fame at the end of a rope.
A Kentish Adventuress who travelled the Continent, acquired several Husbands, and was executed on 22nd of January, 1673, for returning from Transportation
The German princess and her Admirers
THIS woman was so called from her pretending to be born at Cologne in Germany, and that her father was Henry van Wolway, a Doctor of the Civil Law, and Lord of Holmsteim. But this story was of a piece with her actions, for she was really the daughter of one Meders, a chorister at the cathedral of Canterbury, and, some say, only an indifferent trader of that city, in which she was born, the 11th of January, 1642. We can say little of her education; only from her inclinations afterwards we may suppose she had as much learning as is commonly given to her sex. She took great delight in reading, especially of romances and books of knight-errantry — Parismus and Parismenus, Don Belianis of Greece, and Amadis de Gaul, were some of her favourite books; and she was so touched with the character of Oriana in the latter that she frequently conceited herself a princess, or a lady of high quality. Cassandra and Cleopatra were also read in their turns, and her memory was so tenacious that she could repeat a great part of their amours and adventures very readily.
Her marriage was not agreeable to the high opinion she had entertained of her own merit; instead of a knight, or a squire at least, which she had promised herself, she took up with a journeyman shoemaker, whose name was Stedman, by whom she had two children, who both died in their infancy. This man being unable to maintain her extravagances, and support her in the splendour she always aimed at, she was continually discontented, till at last she resolved to leave him and seek her fortune. A woman of her spirit is never long in executing things of this nature; she made an elopement, and went to Dover, where she married another husband, who was a surgeon of that town.
Information of this affair was soon taken, and she was apprehended and indicted at Maidstone for having two husbands, but by some masterly stroke, which she never wanted on a pressing occasion, she was quickly acquitted. This emboldened her to a third marriage, with one John Carleton, a Londoner, which was the occasion of her being first publicly known in town; for some of her old acquaintance giving Carleton's brother an account of her former weddings, she was again taken, committed to Newgate, and tried at the Old Bailey for polygamy. Here again the evidence against her was insufficient, so that she was a second time acquitted.
It is requisite, before we proceed any further in our relation, to observe that between the two last marriages she embarked on board a merchant ship, which carried her to Holland, from whence she travelled by land to the place she had so often talked of, the city of Cologne, where, being now mistress of a considerable sum of money, she took a fine lodging at a house of entertainment, and lived in greater splendour than she had ever before done. As it is customary in England to go to Epsom or Tunbridge Wells in the summer season, so in Germany the quality usually frequent the Spa. Here our adventuress had the picking of a few feathers from an old gentleman who fell in love with her, and who had a good estate not many miles distant from Cologne, at Liege or Luget. By the assistance of the landlady she managed this affair with so much artifice that he presented her with several fine and valuable jewels, besides a gold chain with a very costly medal, which had been formerly given him for some remarkable good service under Count Tilley against the valiant King of Sweden, Gustavus Adolphus. The foolish old dotard urged his passion with all the vehemence of a young vigorous lover, pressing her to matrimony, and making her very large promises, till at last she gave her consent to espouse him in three days, and he left the preparation of things necessary to her care, giving her large sums of money for that purpose. Madam now perceived it was high time to be gone, and, in order to her setting off with the greater security, she acquainted her landlady with the design, who had before shared pretty largely in the spoils of the old captain. The hostess, to be sure, was willing to hearken to any proposal that would help her a little more to fleece the doting inamorato. The princess, however, was resolved this time to have all the booty to herself, and to accomplish this she persuaded her landlady to go into the town and get a place for her in some carriage that did not go to Cologne; because, she said, her lover should not know whither to follow her. The old trot saw that this precaution was very necessary, and therefore away goes she to provide for the safety of her guest, who was now sufficiently to reward her out of her dotard's favours. This was all our adventuress wanted, for as soon as she found herself left alone she broke open a chest, where she had observed her landlady to put all her treasure, and there she found not only what she had shared with her out of the old man's benevolence, but also an additional sum of money not inconsiderable. There is little reason to tell the reader that she took all that was worth taking, there being none of her character apt to spare what it is in their power to seize, though it be from a brother or sister of their own profession. Madam soon packed up her parcel, and having before privately made sure of a passage to Utrecht, she fled thither; from thence she went to Amsterdam, where she sold her gold chain, medal, and some of the jewels, then proceeded to Rotterdam, and then to the Brill, where she took shipping for England. She landed at Billingsgate one morning very early, about the latter end of March, in the year 1663, but found no house open till she came to the Exchange tavern, where she first obtained the title of "the German Princess," in the following manner.
She was got into the aforesaid tavern, in company with some gentlemen, who, she perceived, were pretty full of money. These gentlemen addressing her in the manner usual on such occasions, she immediately feigned a cry, which she had always at command. The tears trickled down her cheeks, she sighed, she sobbed, and the cause being demanded, she told them that she little thought once of being reduced to such a wretched necessity as she was now in, of exposing her body to the pleasure of every bidder. Here she repeated the history of her extraction and education, telling them a great deal about her pretended father, the Lord Henry van Wolway, who, she said, was a sovereign Prince of the Empire, independent of any man but his sacred Imperial Majesty. "Certainly," continued she, "any gentleman may suppose what a mortification it must be to a woman born of such noble parents, and bred up in all the pomp of a Court, under the care of an indulgent father line missing out of mere pity, all the money they had about them, promising to meet her again with more. This they also accomplished, and ever afterwards called her the poor unfortunate German princess; which name she laid claim to in all companies.
The Exchange tavern was kept by one Mr King, who was the same that kept it when our princess received her honorary title. As she was now come from foreign parts with a great deal of riches, he believed more than ever the truth of what she had before affirmed. Nor was madam backward in telling him that she had raised all her wealth by private contribution from some princes of the Empire who were acquainted with her circumstances, and to whom she had made herself known: adding, that not one of those who had given her anything dared to acquaint her father that they knew where she was, because they were all his neighbours, and vastly inferior to him in the number and strength of their forces. "For," said she, "my father is so inexorable that he would make war upon any prince whom he knew to extend his pity to me." John Carleton, whom we mentioned before as her third husband, was brother-in-law to Mr King. He made his addresses to the Princess van Wolway in the most dutiful and submissive manner that could be imagined, making use of his brother's interest to negotiate the affair between them, till with a great deal of seeming reluctance at marrying one of common blood, her highness consented to take him to her embraces. Now was Mr Carleton as great as his Majesty, in the arms of an imaginary princess; he formed to himself a thousand pleasures, which the vulgar herd could have no notion of; he threw himself at her feet in transport, and made use of all the rhetoric he could collect to thank her for the prodigious honour she had done him. But alas! how was he surprised when Mr King presented him with the following letter: —
SIR, I am an entire stranger to your person, yet common justice and humanity oblige me to give you notice that the pretended princess, who has passed herself upon your brother, Mr John Carleton, is a cheat and an impostor. If I tell you, sir, that she has already married several men in our county of Kent, and afterwards made off with all the money she could get into her hands, I say no more than could be proved were she brought in the face of justice. That you may be certain I am not mistaken in the woman, please to observe that she has high breasts, a very graceful appearance, and speaks several languages fluently. Yours unknown,
After Mrs Carleton (for so we may at present call her) had got rid of her husband, and of the prosecution for marrying him, she was entertained by the players, who were in hopes of gaining by a woman who had made such a considerable figure on the real theatre of the world. The house was very much resorted to upon her account, and she got a great deal of applause in her dramatical capacity, by the several characters she performed, which were generally jilt, coquette, or chambermaid, any one of which was agreeable to her artful intriguing genius; but what contributed most to her fame was a play, written purely upon her account, called The German Princess, from her name, and in which she performed a principal part, besides speaking the following epilogue: —
"I've passed one trial, but it is my fear
I shall receive a rigid sentence here:
You think me a bold cheat, put case 'twere so,
Which of you are not? Now you'd swear I know.
But do not, lest that you deserve to be
Censur'd worse than you can censure me:,
The world's a cheat, and we that move in it,
In our degrees, do exercise our wit;
And better 'tis to get a glorious name,
However got, than live by common fame."
The princess had too much mercury in her constitution to be long settled in any way of life whatsoever. The whole City of London was too little for her to act in. How was it possible then that she should be confined in the narrow limits of a theatre? She did not, however, leave the stage so soon but she had procured a considerable number of adorers, who, having either seen her person or heard of her fame, were desirous of a nearer acquaintance with her. As she was naturally given to company and gallantry, she was not very difficult of access; yet when you were in her presence, you were certain to meet with an air of indifference. There were two of her bullies who doted on her beyond all the rest, a couple of smart young fellows, who had abundance more in their pockets than they had in their heads. These, from a deficiency of wit in themselves, were very fond, in the large quantity, of that commodity which they discovered in our princess, and for that reason were frequently in her company. There is no doubt but they had other designs than just to converse with her, for they several times discovered an inclination to come a little nearer to her body. And madam was not so ignorant but she knew their meaning by their whining; she therefore gave them encouragement, till she had drained about three hundred pounds apiece out of them, and then, finding their stock pretty well exhausted, she turned them both off, telling them she wondered how they could have the impudence to pretend love to a princess.
After this, an elderly gentleman fell into the same condition at seeing her as several had done before, though he was fifty years of age, and not ignorant of her former tricks. He was worth about four hundred pounds per annum, and immediately resolved to be at the charge of a constant maintenance, provided she would consent to live with him. To bring about which he made her several valuable presents of rings, jewels, etc. At last, after a long siege, he became master of the fort; yet in such a manner, that it seemed rather to be surrendered out of pure love and generosity than from any mercenary views, for she always protested against being corrupted, so far as to part with her honour, for the sake of filthy lucre, which is a common artifice of the sex. Our gentleman, though, as has been remarked, was sensible of what she was; yet by degrees he became so enamoured as to believe everything she said, and to look upon her as the most virtuous woman alive.
Living now as man and wife, she seemed to redouble her endearments, and to give them all a greater air of sincerity, so that he was continually gratifying her with some costly present or another, which she always took care to receive with an appearance of being ashamed he should bear so many obligations on her, telling him continually that she was not worthy of so many favours. Thus did she vary her behaviour according to the circumstances and temper of the persons she had to deal with. At last our old lover came home one night very much in liquor, and gave her a jewel of five pounds value, and our princess thought this as proper a time as any she was like to meet with for her to make the most of his worship's passion. Accordingly, having got him to bed, and seen him fast asleep, which he soon was at this time, she proceeded to rifle him, finding his pocket-book, with a bill for one hundred pounds upon a goldsmith in the city, and the keys of his trunks and escritoires.
She now proceeded to secure all that was worth her while; among other things she made herself mistress of twenty pieces of old gold, a gold watch, a gold seal, an old silver watch, and several pieces of plate, with other valuable movables, to the value in all of one hundred and fifty pounds. Now she thought it best for her to make off as fast as she could with her prize. So as soon as it was day she took coach and drove to the goldsmith, who mistrusted nothing, having seen her before with the gentleman, and instantly paid the ten pounds, upon which she delivered up the bill. Having thus overreached her old lover, madam took a convenient lodging, at which she passed for a virgin, with a fortune of one thousand pounds left her by an uncle; to this she added that her father was very rich, and able to give her as much more, but that disliking a man whom he had provided for her husband, she had left the country and retired to London, where she was in hopes none of her relations would find her. That this story might appear the more probable, she contrived letters from a friend, which were brought her continually, and in which she pretended she received an account of all that passed, with respect to her father and lover. These letters, being loosely laid about the chamber, were picked up by her landlady, who out of curiosity perused the contents, and by that means became more and more satisfied in her tenant.
This landlady had a nephew of considerable substance, and it was now all her endeavour to make a match between him and her young gentlewoman, whom she soon brought to be pretty intimately acquainted together. The new lover presented her with a watch, as a token of his esteem for her person, but the poor innocent creature refused it with abundance of modesty. However, she was at last prevailed upon to accept this little favour, and the young man thought himself with one foot in Paradise already, that she was so condescending. Their amour after this went on to both their satisfactions, madam seeing a fair prospect of making a penny of her inamorato, and he not in the least doubting but he should obtain his wish, and one day or another enjoy that heaven of bliss which, as he frequently expressed it, was treasured in her arms.
One day as they were conversing together, and entertaining each other with all the soft and tender endearments of young lovers, a porter knocks at the door, and, upon being admitted, delivers a letter to our lady, being introduced by the maid, who had received her instructions beforehand. Madam immediately opens and reads the letter; but scarce had she made an end before, altering her countenance, she shrieked out: "Oh, I am undone! I am undone!" All the company could scarce prevent her falling into a swoon, though the smelling bottle was at hand, and her young lover sitting by her who, to be sure, did not fail to use all the rhetoric he was master of, in order to comfort her, and learn the cause of her surprise. "Sir," quoth she at last, since you are already acquainted with most of my concerns, I shall not make a secret of this. Therefore, if you please, read this letter, and know the occasion of my affliction."
The young gentleman received it at her hands, and read as follows: —-
DEAR MADAM, —-I have several times taken my pen in hand, on purpose to write to you, and as often laid it aside again, for fear of giving you more trouble than you already labour under. However, as the affair so immediately concerns you, I cannot in justice hide what I tremble to disclose, but must in duty tell you the worst of news, whatever may be the consequence of my so doing. Know, then, that your affectionate and tender brother is dead. I am sensible how dear he was to you, and you to him; yet let me entreat you for your own sake to acquiesce in the will of Providence as much as possible, since our lives are all at His disposal Who gave us being. I could use another argument to comfort you, that with a sister less loving than you would be of more weight than that I have urged, but I know your soul is above all mercenary views. I cannot, however, forbear just to inform you that he has left you all he had; and you know further, that your father's estate of two hundred pounds per annum can now devolve upon nobody after his decease but yourself, who are now his only child.
What I am next to acquaint you with may perhaps be almost as bad as the former particular. Your hated lover has been so importunate with your father, especially since your brother's decease, that the old gentleman resolves, if ever he should hear of you any more, to marry you to him, and he makes this the condition of your being received again into his favour, and having your former disobedience, as he calls it, forgiven. While your brother lived he was every day endeavouring to soften the heart of your father, and we were but last week in hopes he would have consented to let you follow your inclinations, if you would come home to him again; but now there is never an advocate in your cause who can work upon the old man's peevish temper, for he says, as you are now his sole heir, he ought to be more resolute in the disposal of you in marriage.
While I am writing, I am surprised with an account that your father and lover are both preparing to come to London, where they say they can find you out. Whether or no this be only a device, I cannot tell, nor can I imagine where they could receive their information if it be true. However, to prevent the worst, consider whether or no you can cast off your old aversion, and submit to your father's commands; for if you cannot, it will be most advisable, in my opinion, to change your habitation. I have no more to say in the affair, being unwilling to direct you in such a very nice circumstance; the temper of your own mind will be the best instructor you can apply to, for your future happiness or misery, during life, depends on your choice. God grant that everything may turn for the better. From your friend,
Our young lover having read the letter, found that she had real cause to be afflicted. Pity for her, and, above all, a concern for his own interest, and the fear of losing his mistress to the country lover, through the authority of her father, put him upon persuading her to remove from her habitation and come to reside with him, having very handsome rooms, fit for the reception of a person of such high quality. Thither she went the next day with her maid, who knew her design, and had engaged to assist her therein to the utmost of her ability. When they were come into madam's bedchamber they resolved not to go to rest, that they might be ready to move off in the morning at the first opportunity. By turns they slept in their clothes on the bed, and towards morning, when all were fast but themselves, they went to work, broke open a trunk, took a bag with one hundred pounds in it, and several suits of apparel, and then slipped out, leaving our poor lover to look for his money and mistress together when he was stirring, both being by that time far enough out of his way.
In a word, it would be impossible to relate half the tricks which she played, or mention half the lodgings in which she at times resided. Seldom did she miss carrying off a considerable booty wheresoever she came; at best she never failed of something, for all was fish that came to her net; where there was no plate, a pair of sheets, half-a-dozen napkins or a pillow-bier —- nay, even things of a less value than these —- would serve her turn, rather than she would suffer her hands to be out of practice.
One time she went to a mercer's in Cheapside with her pretended maid, where she agreed for as much silk as came to six pounds, and pulled out her purse to pay for it, but there was nothing therein but several particular pieces of gold, which she pretended to have a great value for. The mercer, to be sure, would not be so rude as to let a gentlewoman of figure part with what she had so much esteem for; so he ordered one of his men to go along with her to her lodgings, and receive the money there. A coach was ready, which she had brought along with her, and they all three went up into it. When they came to the Royal Exchange, madam ordered the coachman to set her down, pretending to the mercer that she wanted to buy some ribbons suitable to the silk; upon which he suffered the maid, without any scruple, to take the goods along with her, staying in the coach for their return. But he might have stayed long enough if he had attended till they came again, for they found means to get off into Threadneedle Street, and the young man having waited till he was quite weary made the best of his way home to rehearse his misfortune to his master.
Something of a piece with this was a cheat she put upon a French master weaver in Spitalfields, from whom she bought to the value of forty pounds, taking him home with her to her lodging, and bidding him make a bill of parcels, for half the silk was for a kinswoman of hers in the next room. The Frenchman sat down very orderly to do as she bid him, whilst she took the silk into the next room for her niece to see it. Half-an-hour he waited pretty contentedly, drinking some wine which madam had left him. At last, beginning to be a little uneasy, he made bold to knock, when the people of the house came up, and upon his asking for the gentlewoman, told him she had been gone out some time, and was to come there no more. The poor man seeming surprised, they took him into the next room and showed him a pair of back stairs, which was the proper way to her apartment. Monsieur was at first in a passion with the people, till they convinced him that they knew nothing more of his gentlewoman than that she had taken their room for a month, which being expired, she had removed, they could not tell whither.
The next landlord she had was a tailor, whom she employed to make up what she bilked the mercer and weaver of. The tailor imagined he had got an excellent job, as well as a topping woman for his lodger, so he fell to work immediately, and by the assistance of some journeymen, which he hired on this occasion, he got the clothes finished against a day which she appointed, when she pretended she was to receive a great number of visitors. Against the same time she gave her landlady twenty shillings to provide a supper, desiring her to send for what was needful, and she would pay the overplus next day. Accordingly an elegant entertainment was prepared, abundance of wine was drunk, and the poor tailor was as drunk as a beast. This was what our princess wanted, for the landlady going up to put her husband to bed, she and all her guests slipped out, one with a silver tankard, another with a salt, her maid with their clothes which were not on their backs; and, in a word, not one of them all went off empty-handed. Being got into the street, they put the maid and the booty into the coach, getting themselves into others, and driving by different ways to the place of their next residence, not one of them being discovered.
Another time she had a mighty mind, it seems, to put herself into mourning, to which purpose she sent her woman to a shop in the New Exchange in the Strand, where she had bought some things the day before, to desire that the people would bring choice of hoods, knots, scarves, aprons, cuffs and other mourning accoutrements to her lodging instantly, for her father was dead, and she must be ready in so many days to appear at his funeral. The woman of the shop presently looked out the best she had of each of these commodities, and made the best of her way to madam's quarters. When she came there, the poor lady was sadly indisposed, so that she was not able to look over the things till after dinner; when, if madam milliner would please to come again, she did not doubt but they should deal. The good woman was very well satisfied, and refused to take her goods back again, but desired she might trouble her ladyship so far as to leave them there till she came again; which was very readily granted. At the time appointed comes our tradeswoman, and asks if the gentlewoman above-stairs was at home, but was told, to her great mortification, that she was gone out, they could not till whither, and that they believed she would never return again; for she had found means, before her departure, to convey away several of the most valuable parts of furniture in the room which she had hired. The next day confirmed their suspicions, and made both the landlord and milliner give her up for an impostor, and their goods for lost.
Being habited, a la mode, all in sable, she took rooms in Fuller's Rents in Holborn, and sent for a young barrister of Gray's Inn. When Mr Justinian came, she told him she was heir to her deceased father, but that having an extravagant husband, with whom she did not live, she was willing to secure her estate in such a manner as that he might not enjoy the benefit of it, or have any command over it, for, if he had, she was certain of coming to want bread in a little time. Here she wept plentifully, to make her case have the greater effect, and engage the lawyer to stay with her till the plot she had laid could be executed. While the grave young man was putting his face into a proper position, and speaking to the affair in hand with all the learning of Coke, a woman came upstairs on a sudden, crying out: "O Lord, madam, we are all undone, for my master is below! He has been asking after you, and swears he will come up to your chamber. I am afraid the people of the house will not be able to hinder him, he appears so resolute." "O heavens!" says our counterfeit, "what shall I do?" "Why?" says the lawyer. "Why?" quoth she, "I mean for you, dear me; what excuse shall I make for your being here? I dare not tell him your quality and business; for that would endanger all. And, on the other side, he is extremely jealous. Therefore, good sir, step into that closet till I can send him away." The lawyer being surprised, and not knowing what to do on a sudden, complied with her request, and she locked him into the closet, drawing the curtains of the bed, and going to the door to receive her counterfeit husband, who by this time had demanded entrance.
No sooner was our gentleman entered but he began to give his spouse the most opprobrious language he could invent. "O Mrs Devil," says he, "I understand you have a man in the room! A pretty companion for a poor innocent woman, truly! —- one who is always complaining how hardly I use her. Where is the son of a whore? I shall sacrifice him this moment. Is this your modesty, madam? This your virtue? Let me see your gallant immediately, or, by the light, you shall be the first victim yourself." Upon this he made to the closet door, and forced it open in a great fury, as he had before been directed. Here he discovers our young lawyer, all pale and trembling, ready to sink through the floor at the sight of one from whom he could expect no mercy. Out flies the sword, and poor Littleton was upon his marrow-bones in a moment. just in this instant madam interposed, being resolved rather to die herself than see the blood of an innocent man spilt in her apartment, and upon her account. A companion also of our bully husband stepped up, and wrested the sword out of his hand by main strength, endeavouring to pacify him with all the reason and art he was master of. But still, that there might be no appearance of imposture, the more they strove the more enraged our injured poor cornuto appeared, for such he thought to make the lawyer believe he imagined himself. They could not, however, so effectually impose on our limb of the law as that he discerned nothing of the artifice. He began to see himself trepanned, and ventured to speak on his own behalf, and tell the whole truth of the story. But he might as well have said nothing; for the other insisted upon it that this was only pretence, and that he came there for other purposes. His honour was injured, and nothing would serve but blood, or other sufficient reparation. It was at last referred to the arbitration of the other man who came with the sham husband; and he proposed the sum of five hundred pounds to make up the matter. This was a large sum, and, indeed, more than the lawyer could well raise. However, he at last consented to pay down one hundred pounds rather than bring himself into fresh inconveniences which they obliged him immediately to send for, first looking over the note, to see that he did not send for a constable instead of the money. Upon the payment, they discharged him from his confinement.
Not long after this our princess was apprehended for stealing a silver tankard in Covent Garden and, after examination, committed to Newgate. At the following sessions she was found guilty, and condemned, but was afterwards reprieved, and ordered for transportation. This sentence was executed, and she was sent to Jamaica, where she had not been above two years before she returned to England again, and set up for a rich heiress. By this means she got married to a very wealthy apothecary at Westminster, whom she robbed of above three hundred pounds and then left him. After this she took a lodging in a house where nobody lived but the landlady, a watchmaker, who was also a lodger, and herself and maid. When she thought her character here pretty well established, she one night invited the watchmaker and her landlady to go with her to see a play, pretending she had a present of some tickets. They consented, and only madam's maid, who was almost as good as herself, was left at home. She, according to agreement, in their absence broke open almost all the locks in the house, stole two hundred pounds in money, and about thirty watches; so that the prize, in all, amounted to about six hundred pounds, which she carried to a place before provided, in another part of the town. After the play was over, our princess invited her companions to drink with her at the Green Dragon tavern in Fleet Street, where she gave them the slip and went to her maid.
We now proceed to the catastrophe of this prodigious woman, who, had she been virtuously inclined, was capable of being the phoenix of her age; for it was impossible for her not to be admired in everything she said and did. The manner of her last and fatal apprehension was as follows, we having taken the account from the papers of those times. One Mr Freeman, a brewer in Southwark, had been robbed of about two hundred pounds, whereupon he went to Mr Lowman, keeper of the Marshalsea, and desired him to search all suspicious places, in order to discover the thieves. One Lancaster was the person most suspected, and while they were searching a house near New Spring Gardens for him they spied a gentlewoman, as she seemed to be, walking in the two-pairs-of-stairs room in a night-gown. Mr Lowman immediately enters the room, spies three letters on the table, and begins to examine them. Madam seems offended with him, and their dispute caused him to look on her so steadfastly that he knew her, called her by her name, and carried away both her and her letters.
This was in December 1672, and she was kept close prisoner till the 16th of January following, when she was brought by writ of habeas corpus to the Old Bailey, and asked whether or no she was the woman who usually went by the name of Mary Carleton, to which she answered that she was the same. The Court then demanded the reason of her returning so soon from the transportation she had been sentenced to. Here she made a great many trifling evasions to gain time, by which means she gave the bench two or three days' trouble. At last, when she found nothing else would do, she pleaded her belly; but a jury of matrons being called, they brought her in not quick with child. So that on the last day of the sessions she received sentence of death, in the usual form, with a great deal of intrepidity.
After condemnation she had abundance of visitants, some out of curiosity, others to converse with her, learn her sentiments of futurity, and give her such instructions as were needful. Among the latter was a gentleman to whom she gave a great many regular responses; in which she discovered herself to be a Roman Catholic, professed her sorrow for her past life, and wished she had her days to live over again. She also blamed the women who were her jury for their verdict, saying she believed they could not be sure of what they testified, and that they might have given her a little more time.
On the 22nd of January, which was the day of her execution, she appeared rather more gay and brisk than ever before. When her irons were taken off (for she was shackled) she pinned the picture of her husband Carleton on her sleeve, and in that manner carried it with her to Tyburn. Seeing the gentleman who had conversed with her, she said to him in French, "Mon ami, le bon Dieu vous benisse" — "My friend, God bless you." At hearing St Sepulchre's bell toll, she made use of several ejaculations. One Mr Crouch, a friend of hers, rode with her in the cart, to whom she gave at the gallows two Popish books, called The Key of Paradise and The Manual of Daily Devotion. At the place of execution she told the people that she had been a very vain woman, and expected to be made a precedent for sin; that though the world had condemned her, she had much to say for herself; that she prayed God to forgive her, as she did her enemies; and a little more to the same effect. After which she was turned off, in the thirty-eighth year of her age, and in the same month she was born in.
Her body was put into a coffin and decently buried in St. Martin's churchyard, on which occasion a merry wag wrote this distich:
"The German princess here, against her will,
Lies underneath, and yet oh, strange! lies still."