The Age of George III
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The document below is a transcript of a contemporary broadside, describing the executions of Brandreth, Turner and Ludlam for their part in the Pentrich Rising.
The criminals appeared in no respect materially different from what they had previously been. When the Chaplain visited Turner and Ludlam, he presented the latter with the book which had been already stated he wished to possess, in order to give it to his son - "Baxter's Call to the Unconverted." Ludlam received the little volume with expressions of thankfulness, and said it was a book from which he had derived much benefit himself, and he hoped the son for whom he intended it, and others of his family, would profit no less by it than he had done. … Two of his sons, who were among those recently liberated in consequence of the verdict of acquittal pronounced by the Jury, on the Attorney General declining to offer evidence against them, came in the course of the morning to take their leave. He welcomed them with affectionate tenderness, and earnestly entreated them to be good to their unfortunate mother and the children about to be left destitute by his death. Several other of his relations and friends afterwards called on him. While in the prison, they all assisted him with their prayers; and the energy of their appeals to the Creator and the Redeemer of man was such as to make them heard almost all over the building. When they were gone, he repeated the sentiment he had expressed on a former day, upon similar occasion, declaring the parting pang to have been less severe than he had anticipated it would prove, and he seemed consoled with the recollection of having been indulged with this new opportunity of seeing those who were most dear to him. The manner of his death seemed frequently to fill him with unspeakable horror. He was sincerely penitent, but he appeared deficient in fortitude. By degrees, his mind became more tranquillised, and he took a just view of the crime for which he was about to suffer. Attempting to raise his thoughts to Heaven in prayer that afternoon while supplicating his Maker to pardon his numerous sins, he extended his appeal to the Throne of mercy, by imploring the Great Disposer of all Event, "to bless his native land …to incline the King to love his people … to make him beloved by them, and to save the nation from a recurrence of those commotions which had disturbed the public peace, and brought him to an untimely end." He represented himself to have become very feeble since he had been in confinement; his health was certainly considerably impaired, and for some time he had appeared to be falling away. With respect to his family, some erroneous reports have gone forth to the world. He has had fourteen children born to him, but of these only seven survive to mourn the ignominious death of their father.
Turner in the course of this day was visited by several of his friends and relations. Like Ludlam, he was much wasted by imprisonment and sorrow. Anxious to make his present deplorable situation beneficial to others, he undertook to write a letter to some of his relations, which he hoped to make the vehicle of wholesome admonition to them. The effort was in vain. In vain he attempted to collect his thoughts, and to commit them to appear in such a form that they might be read with advantage by others … After repeated endeavours to complete his task, he confessed it to be too much for him, and wished his nephew to write in his place. He desired that an affectionate letter might be written one that would be read with pleasure by those for whom he designed it when he should be no more; and to such letter he expressed a wish to affix his signature. A letter was accordingly written, but as no extraordinary interest attach to such a performance, however moral and religious, not more immediately connected with those who are the subject of this article, we have thought it unnecessary to procure a copy. He did not explicitly confess his offence against his country as Ludlam had done, but he did not hesitate to admit that his conduct had been wrong.
Brandreth on this day exhibited a remarkable instance of fortitude. Few men in such circumstances have ever appeared so perfectly composed. There was nothing of levity, or of vivacity in his conduct, to call for reproof, but he was singularly tranquil, and he continued unshaken to the last. The Chaplain was astonished to find him thus serene. In his experience, he had never met with a man about to lay down his life for offences so aggravated, and under circumstances so peculiarly terrific, who could appear so little distressed, and whose mind was so completely made up to meet death without dismay. In conversing with the prisoner, he expressed surprise at finding him thus, … [Brandreth said he felt] no fear, and did not at all shrink from the idea of mounting the scaffold. Upon this Mr. Pickering said, "he was apprehensive that that which made him so much at his ease, was a constitutional firmness of nerve, and not a fortitude springing from a study of the truth and experience of the consolations of religion." The convict rejoined, that if he were capable of judging of his own case, he could not hesitate to say, that the Reverend Gentleman was mistaken.
All he had read of the Scriptures, and all he had heard of illustration of them, induced him to believe that he had a saving faith in him, and that the tranquillity of his deportment, which had been made the subject of remark, resulted from that faith, and not from any peculiarity of constitution! The Chaplain then changing the subject of conversation, wished to obtain from him some particulars of past life. All inquiries of this nature, however, he still endeavoured to elude. On their being pressed on him more closely, and the propriety of his satisfying them being enforced by the remark that it might be highly beneficial to others to know by what means he had been led from the paths of honesty and peace, to engage in those crimes for which he was about to suffer he repeated it was his determination to say no more than he had already said on these topics. He refused even to tell who and what his parents were and what might transpire respecting his former situation in life must be obtained from his wife; he would communicate nothing; and he hoped such questions would not be put to him again.
The Minister next endeavoured to impress him with a due sense of the guilt he had incurred in shedding the blood of a fellow creature. On this subject at least, he suggested, a full confession ought to be made. Brandreth was here as impenetrable as ever. He had endeavoured to make peace with GOD, and he did not see that it was necessary to make any statement for the satisfaction of man. To him it appeared that this was a question wholly between the ALMIGHTY and his own soul, and now that he was about to be snatched from earth, he cherished a confident hope that an arm of vengeance would not be interposed between him and Heaven. He repeated the declaration that he had no reluctance to mount the scaffold, and felt no dread of the morrow! In the evening, when he was again visited by the Chaplain, his manner and his language were the same, and no trace of emotion or fear could be discovered. During his confinement he once said, that but for Mr Oliver he never should have been there. He was pressed to explain these words, but refused to do so, and he never repeated the assertion, nor even mentioned the name Mr Oliver again.
This morning Ludlam and Turner looked shocking wan and spiritless. They had watched the whole night in prayer and psalm-singing. At nine the Chaplain visited them, and assisted them in their devotions. They afterwards continued to pray aloud till the moment of immediate preparation arrived. Their expressions were always the same: "…O Lord, have mercy!" "O Lord, save my soul!" "If I am on a bad foundation, upon a sandy foundation, O lord, take it now away, and set me upon the rock!" "O pardon all my sins for the sake of thy Son, who died once for all mankind!" "O Lord, come with thy strength, and support my soul!" While the one fervently uttered these expressions, the other kept answering "Amen". Then the other took up the prayer, and was accompanied in the same manner by his companion. Their voices were dejected in the extreme.
Brandreth slept as usual, rose in good spirits, and shewed no sign of despondency or fear.
From an early hour in the morning the scaffolding and drop were erecting in front of the gaol, and a considerable number of persons were collected in the street quietly looking on, and listening with visible alarm to each sad note of preparation.
At half-past ten all the prisoners went to the Chapel. Ludlam and Turner looked like walking spectres. Brandreth stept forward firmly. All the other prisoners appeared to feel much sympathy. At the same moment the crowd without felt some trepidation on seeing the horse led into the gaol that was to draw the hurdle along the yard.
At half past eleven all the prisoners excepting the three men to be executed, and George Weightman left the Chapel. All held their handkerchiefs to their eyes, and sobbed deeply. Shortly after they had come into the yard, William Turner's brother, Edward, shrieked horribly, and was carried into a room by two men. The Chaplain then administered the Sacrament to the four convicts.
At twelve precisely, Mr. Simpson, the Under Sheriff, appeared with a few javelin men, and a considerable number of special constables. The prisoners then descended from the Chapel to the room which Brandreth and Weightman had occupied. Here their irons were knocked off. Turner and Ludlam kept praying all the while. When Ludlam's chains were knocked off, he exclaimed, "O Lord Jesus, thou art tender hearted; O be now my portion!"
At a quarter past twelve the hurdle was drawn up at the door of this room, it was turned the flat side upwards, and the horse was now attached to it. Brandreth came into the yard before the others, and immediately seated, or rather tumbled himself on it, at the same calling out, "You must hold my hand, or I shall fall off." As he passed, he nodded to the other prisoners in the road, and said, "God be with you all, and with me too!" He passed from the hurdle into the passage of the prison, where, in a few minutes, he was joined by Turner; who, on being asked how he felt himself, replied with some vivacity, "Why I feel better than I could expect; I feel as I should be happy." Brandreth took Turner by the hand, and they kissed each other.
When they had thus embraced, Brandreth addressed his fellow-sufferer, while Ludlam was undergoing the first part of his sentence, that of being drawn on the hurdle. - "Well," he said, "we shall now soon be above the sky, where there will be joy and glory for ever and ever in the presence of Jesus Christ." "Yes", Turner replied with enthusiasm, "there will be no sorrow there, all will be joy and felicity." The Chaplain encouraged these hopes, and assisted them with other consoling reflections till Ludlam was brought to the door of the passage. On entering from the yard, he passed Brandreth and Turner, and did not take any part in the conversation just described, and which still continued. - Brandreth declared he was quite ready to die, he did not feel any dread of it at all. Ludlam having passed them praying to himself, was met by Mr. Eaton, the gaoler's brother, who he thought had intended to stop him. He, upon this, said "I suppose I may take a turn or two here, up and down the passage;" and to this no objection was made; but he had passed but once up, when they were summoned to the scaffold.
They passed along the passage leading towards that part of the prison in which Ludlam and Turner had been latterly confined, and were now placed in a row at the foot of a ladder, by which they were to be conducted to the platform.. Here they saw the bench and block, on which the last part of the sentence was to be performed, and had an imperfect view of the machine on which they were first to suffer.
After a momentary pause, Mr. Pickering passed up the ladder with Brandreth, preceded by the executioner and his assistant.
On [being] brought to the scaffold, dispatch is mercy to the criminal. That the sufferers might yesterday be dismissed from life with the greatest possible expedition, after they were exposed to the gaze of the multitude, it was ordered that the three noozes [sic]should be formed, and the ends of the ropes tied to the suspending beam, so that when the sufferers were led forth nothing might remain to be done but pass each rope over the head of the man for whom it was destined, to pull down the caps, and let the drop fall.
On mounting the scaffold Brandreth exclaimed, "God be with you all and Lord Castlereagh." The cord by which he was to be suspended was tied too high, and on account of his shortness it became necessary to loosen it at the top to make it reach him. When his head was passed through it, and the knot placed behind the left ear, the rope being at the same time drawn moderately tight, the word was given for William Turner to be brought up; he ascended the ladder with a faultering step, and on reaching the platform, called out with an air of wildness, "This is all Oliver and the Government, the Lord have mercy on my soul." The halter was then placed about his neck, and he joined with the Minister in prayer. The third sufferer, Isaac Ludlam, was now brought up the ladder; he prayed, as he passed up, and while the rope was being placed about his neck he raised his voice in humble supplication to Heaven, in the following terms: - "O :Lord, forgive my sins, and receive my soul, and grant that I may meet all this great concourse of people in Heaven. Bless the King of this nation, bless the people, bless all the people high and low, rich and poor, bound and free; yea, bless all, from the King upon his Throne down to the meanest subject in the realm; and may this awful dispensation be made a blessing to thousands and tens of thousands. O Lord, receive my spirit!" The Chaplain asked if he would listen to the prayer which he was proceeding to read to Brandreth and Turner, but Ludlam seemed not to hear him, and continued to repeat his former prayer. After a few moments, perceiving the Chaplain was reading, he stopped, and joined the others in their responses. When the Minister had ceased to read, the three culprits joined with him in repeating the Lord's Prayer; after which the Rev. Gentleman took his leave. The executioners put the caps on the heads of the unhappy men, and pulled them over their faces. Each of them exclaimed at this moment, "Into thy hands, O God! I commit my spirit." They continued to call on their Creator and Redeemer for mercy, and I. Ludlam was once more giving utterance to the last part of the prayer above inserted when ...
The drop fell a quarter before one, and at a quarter past one they were cut down. Brandreth's body was then laid upon the block, with the face downwards, and the head towards the street, in the full view of the people; the scaffold not being more than ten feet from the ground. The executioner raised the axe, and struck at the neck with all his force. At that instant there was a burst of horror from the crowd. The executioner then took up the head, and holding it by the hair, addressed the people, "Behold the head of Jeremiah Brandreth, the Traitor!"
The heads of Turner and Ludlam were exhibited in the same way. The heads and bodies were then thrown into the coffins, and interred at dusk in St. Werburgh's Church Yard, Derby.
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