On 14 October 1772 25-year-old John Creamer was executed for "returning from transportation before the expiration of his time," while praying that God forgive "those who have taken away my life for returning back to my own country." John's sad story is just one of 197,745 criminal trials recounted among the The Proceedings of the Old Bailey, a publication focused on trials that took place at the Old Bailey, London's central criminal court, between 1674 and 1913. John Creamer, an Irish-born young man who came to England with his parents at a young age, was originally convicted in May session 1769 for stealing eight guineas, an half guinea, and a quarter guinea, from John Lothian in the dwelling-house of a William Figg. For this crime he was capitally convicted, but afterward "received his Majesty's mercy upon condition of transportation for fourteen years."
According to the corresponding Ordinary's Account dated 14th October 1772, John Creamer committed that original robbery to support his young family during a time when he was out of work. When reminded that he wouldn't be before the court again if he had just finished out his time abroad, he answered "that he had heard that his wife and children were in the parish work house, and he thought that if he came over, he could work in the country, and send for his wife and children, and nobody would find him out." Details of John's behavior, the fact that he was Catholic, and his dying words are also included in the account of the ordinary of Newgate, along with those of the five other men executed at Tyburn that day.
The Proceedings of the Old Bailey online is a free, fully-searchable edition of the transcribed original records of the publication, which while "aimed at a popular rather than legal audience," has been found to be fairly accurate in its reporting. The website also features the sister publication Ordinary of Newgate's Accounts: Biographies of Executed Criminals, 1676-1772, which records biographical history, confessions, and dying behavior of executed convicts tried at regular sessions, published under the name of the Ordinary of Newgate. In many cases a digitized copy of the original court record is linked to the transcription.
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