Cache-Control: public, max-age=1024000 William Casey

The Life of WILLIAM CASEY

a Robber

William Casey, whose life is the subject of our present discourse, was a son of one of the same name, a soldier who had served his Majesty long, and with good reputation. As is usual amongst that sort of people, the education he gave his son was such as might fit him for the same course of life, though at the same time he took care to provide him with a tolerable competency of learning, that is, as to writing and reading English. When he was about fifteen years of age, his father caused him to be enlisted in the same company in which he served for some small time before my Lord Cobham's expedition into Spain,[1] in which he accompanied him. That expedition being over, Casey returned into England, and did duty as usual in the Guards.

One night he, with some others, crossing the park a fray happened between them and one John Stone, which as Casey affirmed at his death, was occasioned by the prosecutor Stone offering very great indecencies to him, upon which they in a fury beat and abused him, from the abhorrence they pretended to have for that beastly and unnatural sin of sodomy. Whether this was really the case or no is hard to determine; all who were concerned in it with Casey being indicted (though not apprehended) with him, and their evidence consequently taken. However that matter was, Stone the prosecutor told a dreadful story on Casey's trial. He said the four men attacked him crossing the Park, who attacked, beat and cruelly trod upon and wounded him, taking from him at the same time his hat, wig, neck-cloth and five shillings in money; and that upon his arising and endeavouring to follow them, they turned back, stamped upon him, broke one of his ribs, and told him that if he attempted to stir, they would seize him and swear sodomy upon him. On this indictment Casey was convicted and ordered for execution, notwithstanding all the intercession his friends could make.

While under sentence he complained heavily of the pains a certain corporal had taken in preparing and pressing the evidence against him. He said his diligence proceeded not from any desire of doing justice, or for his guilt, but from an old grudge he owed their family, from Casey's father threatening to prosecute him for a rape committed on his daughter, then very young, and attended with very cruel circumstances; and which even the corporal himself had in part owned in a letter which he had written to the said Casey's father. However, while he lay in Newgate, he seemed heartily affected with sorrow for his misspent life, which he said was consumed as is too frequent among soldiers, either in idleness or vice. He added, that in Spain he had made serious resolutions of amendment with himself, but was hindered from performing them by his companions, who were continually seducing him into his old courses. When he found that all hopes of life were lost, he disposed himself to submit with decency to his fate, which disposition he preserved to the last.

At the place of execution he behaved with great composure and said that as he had heard he was accused in the world of having robbed and murdered a woman in Hyde Park, he judged it proper to discharge his conscience by declaring that he knew nothing of the murder, but said nothing as to the robbery. At the time of his death, which was on the 11th of September, 1721, he was about twenty years of age, and according to the character his officers gave him, a very quiet and orderly young man. He left behind him a paper to be published to the world, which as he was a dying man he averred to be the truth.

A copy of a paper left by William Casey.

Good People, I am now brought to this place to suffer a shameful and ignominious death, and of all such unhappy persons, 'tis expected by the world that they should either say something at their death, or leave some account behind them. And having that which more nearly concerns me, viz., the care of my immortal soul, I choose rather to leave these lines behind me than to waste my few precious moments in talking to the multitude. First, I declare, I die like a member, though a very unworthy one, of the Church of England as by Law established, the principles of which my now unhappy father took an early care to instruct me in. And next for the robbery of Mr. Stone, for which I am now brought to this fatal place. I solemnly do declare to God and the world, that I never had the value of one halfpenny from him, and that the occasion of his being so ill-used was that he offered to me that detestable and crying sin of sodomy.

I take this opportunity, with almost my last breath, to give my hearty thanks to the honourable Col. Pitts, and Col. Pagitt, for their endeavours to save my life, and indeed I had some small hopes that his Majesty, in consideration of the services of my whole family, having all been faithful soldiers and servants to the Crown of England, would have extended one branch of his mercy to me, and have sent me to have served him in another country. But welcome be the Grace of God, I am resigned to His will, and die in charity with all men, forgiving, hoping to be forgiven myself, through the merits of my blessed Saviour Jesus Christ. I hope, and make it my earnest request that nobody will be so little Christian as to reflect on my aged parents, wife, brother, or sisters, for my untimely end. And I pray God, into whose hands I commend my spirit, that the great number of sodomites in and about this City and suburbs, may not bring down the same judgement from Heaven as fell on Sodom and Gomorrah.

William Casey.

FOOTNOTES:

[1] Sir Richard Temple, 1st Viscount Cobham, was a distinguished general who had served under Marlborough. In 1719 he led an expedition to the north coast of Spain and seized Vigo and the neighbouring towns and harbours.