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The Execution of Thomas Crawley

Following Thomas Crawley's conviction for the murder of Joseph Adams the Northampton Mercury of 27th July 1833 reported his execution.

"Yesterday, at noon, the last and extreme penalty of the law was put in force on Thomas Crawley, the elder, convicted on Wednesday of the wilful murder of Mr. Joseph Adams, an inform old gentleman who, up to the time he met his death, lived at Kinsbourne Green, a village three miles out of Luton, on the London road. The unfortunate culprit married early in life, and with is wife and five children had lived at Watford, in Hertfordshire, a distance of about sixteen miles from the spot where the murder was committed. It would seem from the time of his first committal to prison on the charge of robbing the deceased on the high-way, he anticipated that his life would be forfeited, and when he heard that Mr. Adams had died of the wound he had inflicted, he at once sought the assistance of the Rev. Mr. M'Clear, the Chaplain of the County Gaol. He also made an indirect admission of his guilt, observing that he did not intend to murder the deceased, but only to rob him of his watch and money. When brought back to the gaol after condemnation, he did not appear to be much affected, and going to bed, slept soundly during the night. The Rev. Chaplain attended him at an early hour on Thursday morning, and in the course of the day obtained from him a confession of his guilt, in substance as follows: - He said "that both himself, his wife, and children, were in the greatest possible distress. He was without work, or character, and therefore had no hopes of obtaining any. On Easter Sunday, his wife having been confined a week, he left his home at three o'clock in the morning, and taking his eldest boy with him, set out on his way to Luton, where his wife's father lived. He had no intention to commit any robbery, but seeing the old man on the road, he could not withstand the temptation, thinking that the deceased was incapable, from infirmity, of making any resistance. The culprit resolved to obtain his watch, and accordingly cut two sticks, one of which he threw away, and watching a favourable opportunity, made a snatch at the deceased's watch. He had previously sent his son out of the way. The old man was very strong, and while he was attempting to get the watch out of the deceased's fob, he made a most determined resistance, and he (culprit) hit him the blow on the cheek, which eventually caused his death".

"The wife of the culprit visited him in the condemned cell for the last time on Thursday afternoon; on parting from her and the infant which she had at her bosom, he was considerable affected, and for some time did not regain his usual state of mind. In the course of that day two of the magistrates who had taken an active part in the investigation called at the prison, and had an interview with him; to them he solemnly declared that he forgave his prosecutors, and maintained no enmity towards his son who gave evidence against him. He also obtained a promise from the magistrates to see that the son was taken care of, and had proper principles instilled in his mind".

"As the time for him to meet his fate drew near he appeared firm and expressed himself truly penitent. He displayed great resignation, and that unconcerned demeanour which so particularly distinguished his conduct during the trial did not forsake him in his last moments".

"There was a large concourse of spectators to witness his exit from this life. After hanging the usual time, the body was cut down, placed in a plain elm coffin, and buried within the precincts of the prison. He is the first culprit executed in this county since the new Anatomy Law came into effect".