Sunday, August 30, 2015

The Duke's Story

Whalebone Research Notes
John Whalebone was convicted of theft in London Old Bailey court several times and was sentenced to be transported to the Colonies in 1723.  He was transported to the Carolinas on the Forward on 13 Oct 1723.  In 1725, he returned to London, and captured and tried for returning from transport before his required seven year term. He was convicted and hanged on the Tyburn gallows, just outside Newgate prison in the heart of London.  He was said to be 38 years of age.  His son, Duke would have been 7, and according to the customs of the time, likely witnessed his father’s excution.
From online documents concerning Tyburn gallows and Newgate Priston:
There has been some discussion as to the exact site of Tyburn gallows, but there can be little doubt that the great permanent three-beamed erection--the Triple Tree--stood where now the Edgware Road joins Oxford Street and Bayswater Road. A triangular stone let into the roadway indicates the site of one of its uprights. In 1759 the sinister beams were pulled down, a moveable gibbet being brought in a cart when there was occasion to use it. The moveable gallows was in use until 1783, when the place of execution was transferred to Newgate; the beams of the old structure being sawn up and converted to a more genial use as stands for beer-butts in a neighbouring public-house.
Early in the morning, the prisoner would be moved from Newgate Prison on a cart, often seated on his own coffin, with a prison chaplain. When the procession reached the steps of St. Sepulchre, the criminal would be given brightly colored nosegays by friends, the church bell would sound, and the clerk would chant, "You that are condemned to die, repent with lamentable tears; ask mercy of the Lord for the salvation of your souls." As the parade passed by, the clerk would tell the audience, "All good people, pray heartily unto God for these poor sinners who are now going to their death, for whom the great bell tolls." According to the popularity of the criminal, he could be pelted with rocks and other missiles or cheered along the two-hour trip to Tyburn. 
After drinking with the hangman at a tavern along the way and saying prayers with the chaplain, the condemned would arrive at the gallows with the expectation of a "last dying speech ," his final penitent words on the precipice of eternity. Not all prisoners were willing to follow the script due to claims of innocence, resentment of the spectacle, religious beliefs or complete inebriation. In any case, this was a high theatrical moment that many dramatists found too rich to overlook on the stage.
Emotions could run high at executions and sympathy was often stirred up in the crowd. There are instances of riots breaking out when surgeons tried to claim dead bodies after a hanging for purposes of dissection.
With over 350 crimes punishable by death in the 18th century - and transportation, branding and other forms of public penance taking care of many of the rest - long prison sentences were almost unheard of. However, many stayed in prison until they died, despite receiving a short sentence, or no sentence at all. With no police force, catching criminals was very difficult. Execution was supposed to deter other would-be lawbreakers.
Of the 150 prisons in London, Newgate was the largest, most notorious and the worst. It had room for between 40 and 50 prisoners at various times. Because prisons were privately run, any time spent in prison had to be paid for by the prisoner; gaoler in those times was a lucrative position, and one that had to be paid for. 'Garnish' had to be paid on arrival, payments for candles, soap and other supplies had to be made. Heavy manacles - often painfully constricting - were attached to prisoners and then secured to chains and staples in the floor. The prisoner could pay to have lighter manacles fitted ('easement of irons'), or have them removed entirely. The freedom to walk around could also be bought, if enough money changed hands. Prisoners were also housed according to their ability to pay, ranging from a private cell with a cleaning woman and a visiting prostitute, to simply lying on the floor with no cover and barely any clothes. Lice were everywhere, and only a quarter of the prisoners survived until their execution day. Infectious diseases like typhus - the so-called 'gaol-fever', which was spread throughout the prison by lice and fleas, killed far more people than the gallows.
Food was provided by the authorities, and by charities to those who could not pay, but cooking wasn't included and so it was often eaten raw. Drink was also available - the prison had a bar - although the prices were extortionate. Leaving prison was not simply a matter of finishing a sentence and walking out. A departure fee had to be paid and, until it was, prisoners could not leave. Those who died inside had to stay there as a rotting corpse until relatives found the money for it to be released. The stench was unimaginable, and unavoidable for the incarcerated. Nearby shops were often forced to close in the summer because of the unbearable smell. It wasn't unusual for children to be conceived and born inside the prison, for men and women freely mingled, and the women found that they could swap sex for food; if they became pregnant they could 'plead the belly' in an attempt to avoid hanging. Surviving children were taken to the workhouse, where their chances weren't much better. Prisoners often had their entire families inside the prisons with them, including any family pets.


Proceedings of The Old Bailey [copied verbatim from court records online]

John Whalebone, theft : specified place, 13th July, 1715.
John Whalebone , of the Parish of St. Botolph Aldgate, was indicted for stealing a Brass Pestle and Morter, 5 Brass Candlesticks, and 16 s. in Money , the Goods and Money of Joseph Tandy , on the 12 Instant. The Witness swore, That he was a Lodger in the House, and bearing a Noise below, look'd out at Window, and saw the Prisoner with a Bag upon his Back; upon which he ran down and took him with the Goods upon him. He pretended he was sent to carry 'em, but had no Proof, and was found Guilty to the value of 10 d.

John Whalebone, John White, theft : burglary, 27th April, 1720.

John Whalebone and John White , of St. Botolph without Bishopsgate, were indicted for breaking the Dwelling-House of John Crofts , on the 29th of December last in the Night-time, and taking thence a Warming Pan, 24 Ounces of Silk, 2 Shirts, 2 pair of Leather Breeches, &c. the Goods of the said John Crofts . But the Evidence not being sufficient, the Jury Acquitted them.
John Whalebone , alias Whelbone, John Cowley, theft : specified place, theft : specified place, 28th August, 1723.

John Whalebone , alias Whelbone , of St. Andrew's Holborn, was indicted for feloniously stealing a Perriwig, value 40 s. and other Goods, in the Dwelling-house of John Moore , the 19th of July last. The Fact being plainly prov'd, the Jury found him guilty of the Felony. Transportation .
John Whalebone, and John Cowley , of St. Giles's in the Fields, were indicted for feloniously stealing 3 Sheets, value 45 s. and other Goods, in the Dwelling-house of Daniel Crispin , the 16th of July last. The Fact being plainly prov'd, the Jury found them both guilty to the Value of 39 s. Transportation

John Whalebone , alias Wellbone, miscellaneous : returning from transportation, 13th October, 1725.

John Whalebone , alias Wellbone , was indicted for feloniously returning from Transportation, before the Expiration of Seven Years . The Record was read, and the Witnesses thus deposed.
Mr. Jones: About two Years ago I apprehended him for robbing Mr. Moor: He was Try'd, Convicted, and Transported. I afterwards heard that he was committed to Bridewell. I went thither, and ask'd how he dared appear again? He said, he knew he should be hang'd, but he would do as much Mischief as he could first.
Jonathan Forward : This Prisoner was ship'd on board the Forward Galley, Oct. 5. 1723. I remember him well, for he was so unruly, that we were forced to put him in double Irons. Guilty . Death .


The Project Gutenberg EBook of Lives Of The Most Remarkable Criminals Who have been Condemned and Executed for Murder, the Highway, Housebreaking, Street Robberies, Coining or other offences, by Arthur L. Hayward,  Collected from Original Papers and Authentic Memoirs, and
Published in 1735. This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.net 


The Life of JOHN WHALEBONE, alias WELBONE, a Thief, etc.


This malefactor was born in the midst of the City of London, in the Parish of St. Dionis Back Church. His parents were persons in but mean circumstances, who however strained them to the uttermost to give this their son a tolerable education. They were especially careful to instruct him in the principles of religion, and were therefore under an excessive concern when they found that neglecting all other business, he endeavoured only to qualify himself for the sea. However, finding this inclinations so strong that way, they got him on board a man-of-war, and procured such a recommendation to the captain that he was treated with great civility during the voyage, and if he had had any inclinations to have done well, he might in all probability have been much encouraged. But after several voyages to sea, he took it as strongly in his head to
go no more as he had before to go, whether his parents would or no.

He then cried old clothes about the streets; but not finding any great encouragement in that employment, he was easily drawn in by some wicked people of his acquaintance, to take what they called the shortest method of getting money, which was in plain English to go a-thieving. He had very ill-luck in his new occupation, for in six weeks' time, after his first setting out on the information of one of his companions, he was apprehended, tried, convicted, and ordered for transportation.

It was his fortune to be delivered to a planter in South Carolina, who employed him to labour in his plantations, afforded him good meat and drink, and treated him rather better than our farmers treat their servants here. Which leads me to say something concerning the usage such people met with, when carried as the Law directs to our plantations, in order to rectify certain gross mistakes; as if Englishmen abroad had totally lost all humanity, and treated their fellow-creatures and fellow-countrymen as slaves, or as brutes.

The Colonies on the Continent of America are those which now take off the greatest part of those who are transported for felony from Britain, most of the Island Colonies having long ago refused to receive them. The countries into which they now go, trading chiefly in such kind of commodities as are produced in England (unless it be tobacco), the employment, therefore, of persons thus sent over, is either in attending husbandry, or in the culture of the plant which we have before mentioned. They are thereby exposed to no more hardships than they would have been obliged to have undergone at home, in order to have got an honest livelihood, so that unless their being obliged to work for their living is to pass for great hardship, I do not conceive where else it can lie, since the Law, rather than shed the blood of persons for small offences, or where they appear not to have gone on for a length of time in them, by its lenity changes the punishment of death into sending them amongst their own countrymen at a distance from their ill-disposed companions, who might probably seduce them to commit the same offences again. It directs also, that this banishment shall be for such a length of time as may be suitable to the guilt of the crime, and render it impracticable for them on their return to meet with their old gangs and acquaintance, making by this means a happy mixture both of justice and clemency, dealing mildly with them for the offence already committed and endeavouring to put it ever out of their own power by fresh offences, to draw a heavier judgment upon themselves.

But to return to this Whalebone. The kind usage of his master, the easiness of the life which he lived, and the certainty of death if he attempted to return home, could not all of them prevail upon him to lay aside the thoughts of coming back again to London, and there giving himself up to those sensual delights which he had formerly enjoyed. Opportunities are seldom wanting where men incline to make use of diem; especially to one who had been bred as he was to the sea. So that in a year and a half after ms being settled there, he took such ways of recommending himself to a certain captain as induced him to bring him home, and set him safe on shore near Harwich. He travelled on foot up to London, and was in town but a very few days before being accidentally
taken notice of by a person who knew him, he caused him to be apprehended, and at the next sessions at the Old Bailey, he was convicted of such illegal return, and ordered for execution.

At first he pretended that he thought it no crime for a man to return to his own country, and therefore did not think himself bound to repent of that. Whatever arguments the Ordinary made use of to persuade him to sense of his guilt I know not. But because this is an error into which such people are very apt to fall; and as there want not some of the vulgar who take it for a great hardship, also making it one of those topics upon which they take occasion to harangue against the severity of a Law that they do not understand, I think it will not, therefore, be improper to explain it.

Transportation is a punishment whereby the British law commutes for offences which would otherways be capital, and therefore a contract is plainly presumed between every felon transported and the Court by whose authority he is ordered for transportation, that the said felon shall remain for such term of years as the Law directs, without returning into any of the King's European dominions; and the Court plainly acquaints the felon that if, in breach of his agreement, he shall so return, that in such case the contract shall be deemed void, and the capital punishment shall again take place. To say, then, that a person who enters into an agreement like this, and is perfectly acquainted with its conditions, knowing that no less than his life must be forfeited by the breach of them, and yet wilfully breaks them, to say that such a person as this is guilty of no offence, must in the opinion of every person of common understanding be the greatest absurdity that can be asserted; and to call that severity which only is the Law's taking its forfeit, is a very great impropriety, and proceeds from a foolish and unreasonable compassion. This I think so plain that nothing but prepossession or stupidity can hinder people from comprehending it.

As to Whalebone, when death approached, he laid aside all these excuses and applied himself to what was much more material, the making a proper use of that little time which yet remained for repentance. He acknowledged all the crimes which he had committed in the former part of his life, and the justice of his sentence by which he had been condemned to transportation; and having warned the people at his execution to avoid of all things being led into ill company, he suffered with much seeming penitence, together with the afore-mentioned malefactors, at Tyburn, being then about thirty-eight years of age.




Duke Whalebone followed the example of this father and made his way in St. Botolph Without Aldgate {meaning outside Aldgate} London, England as a petty thief. 

From Proceedings of The Old Bailey, online:
John Busk , Eleanor Willford , theft: housebreaking, theft: receiving stolen goods, 25 Feb 1736.
The Proceedings of the Old Bailey Ref: t17360225-39
Homepage » Search» Results » Trial

Trial Summary:
Crime(s): theft : housebreaking, theft : receiving stolen goods,
Punishment Type: transportation,
(Punishment details may be provided at the end of the trial.)
Verdict: Part Guilty: convicted of a lesser offence, Part Guilty: theft under 5s,
Other trials on 25 Feb 1736
Name search for: John Busk , Eleanor Willford ,
Associated Records...

See original

Original Text:

50. John Busk , was indicted for breaking open the House of Elizabeth Wingfield , and stealing 13 Linnen Handkerchiefs, value 10s. 6 Copper-coloured ditto, value 8s. 4 Yards of printed Linnen, value 7s. and 12 blue and white Linnen Handkerchiefs, value 9s. the Goods of Elizabeth Wingfield, Jan. 9. And

51. Eleanor Willford was indicted for feloniously receiving the same, knowing them to be stolen.

Elizabeth Wingfield. On the 9th of January about 8 at Night, I was in a back Room, behind my Shop, at (Lime-house, by Dick's-Shore) and I heard the Sash shove up; I came out and found all the Goods which lay in the Window were gone.

Duke Whalebone , otherwise Dumplin. This John Busk , and one Bird, and myself committed this Robbery: Busk shoved up the Sash, and Bird ran away with a Bundle of blue Bird-ey'd, and a Bundle of Copper coloured Handkerchiefs, a Bundle of white Linnen, and a Bundle of chequ'd Linnen. We sold them to Elen. Willford for 7s - we call her Irish Nell.

Ellen Willford . Ask him if he sold me the Goods, or took the Money for them?

D. Whalebone, Busk, and Bird's Wife sold them to her for 7s.

Holderness. Lawrence the Constable on the other side of the Water, had been looking after Dumpling, and he desired me to seize him if I should see him. While I was at work in Leaden-hall-street, I thought I saw him go by; I went after him, and charged him with stealing a shew Glass, he desired to be made an Evidence and put Busk into an Information. I went to Kent street to look for him, as I had been directed, and searched the House, but could not find him: at last we made a Woman who was sitting in the Chimney Corner get up, and found Busk upon his Hands and Knees under the Woman's Petticoats; she had been sitting upon his Back. When he was carryed to the Constable, he desired to be made an Evidence: I told him I would speak to Lawrence about it, if he could do any thing to save his Life: Lawrence would do nothing without the Advice of Justice Lade; he admitted Dumpling to be an Evidence, and then Busk cryed, G - d - my Eyes I shall be jamm'd this time; I wish I might either lye in Jayl, or be transported, but I shall be jamm'd now. He mentioned this Robbery, but could not remember the Particulars, and confessed he had knocked a Boy down in Ratcliff-high way, and took his Hat.

Pris. Busk. 'Tis the Practice of these Thief-takers to take up young Fellows, make them drunk, and get them to say what they would have them, that they may take their Lives away for the sake of the Reward.

Pris. Willford. I never laid out a Half-penny with these Creatures in my Life.

- Mitchell. I know Willford has a very ill Character, and has been tryed before this, at Kingston Assizes.

D. Whalebone. I have sold Irish Nell a great many stolen Goods. On the 30th of January I sold her a Coat for 6 s. I took it from a Coach-Box, and she knew I made it; and on the 1st of February, she bought a Looking-Glass, and gave me 6 s. for that.

Busk was acquitted of the Burglary, and found guilty of the Felony. Eleanor Willford guilty, 4 s. 10 d.
Duke Whalebone , theft: simple grand larceny, 07 Dec 1737.

Trial Summary:
Crime(s): theft : simple grand larceny,
Punishment Type: transportation,
(Punishment details may be provided at the end of the trial.)
Verdict: Part Guilty: theft under 1s,
Other trials on 07 Dec 1737
Name search for: Duke Whalebone ,
Associated Records...

70. Duke Whalebone , was indicted with Joseph Miller , (not taken) for stealing 2 Looking-glasses, value 10 s. the Goods of John Garret , Nov. 22. Guilty, 10 d.
Punishment summary from Old Bailey Proceedings; Sir John Barnard, Session I, Wednesday 7th December 1737, 1-20
The Proceedings of the Old Bailey Ref: s17371207-477

Duke Whalebone  58 [ref. #58 means Sailed from Newgate Prison, London to Virginia on the ship named Dorsetshire, Captain John Whiting, 93 person came onboard at Newgate, on Jan. 3 1737. 

The first record we have for Duke Whalebone in Virginia is his marriage to Elizabeth Powell, the widow of Charles Powell, 3 Dec 1745, Overwharton Parrish, Stafford County, Virginia.  At the time of his mother’s marriage to Whalebone, our Charles Powell was about 4 ½ years old.  He was raised by his step-father, Duke Whalebone, and likely thought of and called Duke father.  After the Revolutionary War, Duke and Elizabeth Whalebone can be found in Caswell County, North Carolina in the vicinity of her son John Powell and not far from another son, our own Charles Powell just across the state line in Halifax County, Virginia.
In 1756 Duke Whalebone’s name appears as a witness to a will in Stafford County, Virginia. In 1179, his son Thomas Whalebone’s name appears on a Stafford County, Virginia document. 
Caswell, NC Wills A, p. 83, Aug. 5, 1779, Sept., 1779  Will of John Smith
To my beloved wife Mary my land and all my goods and chattels during her life, excepting that part whereon Duke Whalebone lives, which I give unto him and his wife Elizabeth during their lifetimes beginning at the mouth of the Spring Branch to a sloping pine branded "TW".  To my daughter Betty Jerrell.  William Jerrell.  Wife extrx.  Witt: Thomas Duncan, Thomas [X] Wynn.
We know that Margaret Powel married Peter Smith in Orange County, North Carolina in 1796.  That same year, John Powel and Peter Smith together sold 252 acres in Caswell County to Archibald Carter. This was probably John Powel Sr.'s land.  Margaret Powell could be either a daughter of widow of John Powell, Sr. We do not know who the above mentioned John Smith is, other than that he was a neighbor to the Whalebones.
Caswell, NC Deeds D, p. 233, Aug. 18, 1787
State of NC to Duke Whalebone: 150 acres on waters of Rutledge Creek beginning at a post oak thence south with John Smith's line 32 chains to a red oak, thence west with Thomas Swann's line 62 chains and 50 links to a black jack, thence north 14 chains and 50 links to a black jack, thence east with Atkinson's line 27 chains and 50 links to a black oak, thence north his line 17 chains and 50 links to a chesnut, thence east 35 chains to the first station.
[Note: Rutledge Creek headwaters in far northern Caswell Co. crossing into Pittsylvania Co., VA near the intersection of Interstate 785 and US 29, then flowing eastward thru southern parts of Danville, VA where it joins with Pumpkin Creek, eventually emptying into Dan River where River is crossed by I785.  The Whalebone Branch of Pumpkin Creek appears on modern maps as well as the 1925 USGS Danville 1:62500 quadrangle map.  It flows due east about 1 mile south of the NC/VA border, and is midway between US 29 and NC Route 86.  It is 2 miles west of the town of Gatewood, NC.]
Caswell, NC Deeds N, p. 176, Jan. 31, 1804
Thomas [X] Whalebone of Rockingham Co., NC, heir at law of Duke Whalebone to James Colquohoun of Danville, VA: £150 for [150 acres] tract on waters of Rutledge Creek beginning at a post oak, then south to and with John Smith's line 32 chains to a red oak, then west with Thomas Swann's line 62 chains and 50 links to a black jack, then north 14 chains and 50 links to a black jack, then east with Atkinson's line 27 chains and 50 links to a black oak, then north his line 17 chains and 50 links to a chesnut, then east 35 chains to the first station.  Witt: Thomas Gatewood, Walker [W] Dowell, James Gatewood.
April Court 1804: The execution of this deed was duly proved in open court by the oaths of Thomas Gatewood and James Gatewood two of the subscribing witnesses thereto and on motion ordered to be registered.

[Note:  This apparently the 150 acres of Duke Whalebone’s land grant, the meters and bounds unchanged from 1779.  Duke was assessed for 180 acres in 1780, and was taxed in 1781 and 1782 but not for land.  Thomas paid yearly Caswell taxes for 150 acres of land from 1785 until 1794.]

2 comments:

The 4th Sister said...

WELL.... I had been wishing you would post.....I guess this just proves watch out what you wish for

Sister--Three said...

I love your comment, Helen.