Taught a Dog to pick Pockets, and was executed for Housebreaking at Tyburn in August, 1711
OF all the two hundred and forty-two malefactors who were executed at Tyburn, and elsewhere in and about London, from the beginning of Sir Thomas Abney's mayoralty to the end of Sir Richard Hoare's, this Thomas Gerrard was not, for the short time he triumphed in his villainy, inferior to any of them for wickedness. He was born in the parish of St Giles-in-the-Fields, of good and honest parents, who kept the Red Lion Inn in Holborn. He took to the trade of thieving, following it for a consider- able time, whereby he had often been in Newgate, and was condemned once before he committed the fact for which he at last suffered death.
One time Gerrard, having committed a great robbery in London, and fearing to be apprehended for it, stole a horse worth above thirty pounds and rode into Lincolnshire, where, lying at a by-inn within a mile of Grantham, and espying a very large punch-bowl made of a new-fashioned mixed metal resembling plate, brought to some company, he supposed it to be really silver, and by its bigness to be worth nearly sixty pounds. Then going to bed, and observing this bowl to be locked up in a closet in the room where he lay, he broke it open in the dead of the night and privately carried off the imaginary plate, without his horse, to Newark-upon-Trent, where, being made sensible it was not silver, he threw it into the river, but damned himself to the very pit of hell for being such a fool as to leave a horse of considerable value for a bargain not worth twenty shillings. However, to be revenged on the people, who had got sufficient by his covetousness, he went, about a month after, to the house, when it was late at night, and setting fire to it burned it down to the ground in less than two hours; and by this villainous action ruined a whole family. This base offender had a dog, which he had taught to pick pockets as well as the best artist whatever of that profession; but after the untimely end of his master, seeking out for another, who should he pitch upon but Dr —-, the Presbyterian parson, on whom he mightily fawned; and being a pretty dog, he was liked by that reverend gentleman, who made very much of him, till one day, going through Newgate Street, whilst he went into a tobacconist's shop to buy some tobacco, his new dog in the meantime ran into Newgate Market and fetched him a purse, in which was betwixt thirty and forty shillings, which he received without asking any questions. The old doctor presently stepping in somewhere else, the dog ran again to Newgate Market, and fetched him another purse, with much such another sum of money, and gave him that too. The doctor, looking now on his dog to be a great offender in that kind, as soon as he came home called this criminal to justice, and very fairly hanged the poor cur, for fear he should at last pick pockets in his meeting-house.
Though housebreaking was the chief villainy which Tom Gerrard went upon, yet sometimes he counterfeited bank- notes, Exchequer bills, malt tickets, bills of sale or seamen's tickets, signed with any intricate hand. A certain profane gentleman in Leicester Fields once had a parrot, which he taught to swear and curse more than anything else. One day it happened that Tom Gerrard, sneaking about dinner-time into the parlour where Poll was hanging in a cage, went to the sideboard and took off several pieces of plate; but the parrot, having an eye upon him, set up her throat and fell a-screaming out: "Thieves, G-d d —--n you! Thieves, thieves, by G-d, make haste!" This uproar quickly alarmed the servants, who, running to see the cause of Poll's swearing and cursing after this manner, apprehended Tom Gerrard, on whom they found half-a-dozen silver spoons, and as many forks of the same metal; for which he was burned in the hand. Thomas Gerrard and Tobias Tanner were both indicted for breaking open the dwelling-house of William Gardiner, in the night-time, and taking from thence eight dozen pairs of worsted stockings, value ten pounds, and eight pounds' weight of thread, twenty-five shillings, with other things of value, the goods of the said William Gardiner, on the 10th of August, 1710. It appeared that the prosecutor, about midnight on the date aforesaid, was knocked up by the watch, and found his house broken open and his goods gone. To fix it upon the prisoners, one John Audrey, a person concerned with them, deposed that himself, with the prisoners, and a person not taken, broke into the prosecutor's shop, through the brickwork under a window, about twelve at night, took away the goods, and sold them to Mat Bunch for three pounds six shillings, which was equally divided amongst them. Gerrard upon his trial confessed the fact; but the evidence being not strong enough against Tanner, he was acquitted. Gerrard was accordingly ordered for execution, which he suffered at Tyburn, on Wednesday, the 24th of August, 1711, aged twenty-four years.