The Newgate Calendar - GEORGE COCK

GEORGE COCK

A most Plausible Scoundrel, executed at Tyburn, 13th of June, 1748, for privately stealing

THIS artful rogue was born in the neighbourhood of Aldgate, and for seven or eight years lived as errand-boy and porter to several tradesmen, none of whom had reason to suspect that he purloined their property; but he was held by them in no esteem, on account of his being frequently intoxicated and associating with people of dissolute principles.

Having made pretensions of love to a maid-servant in the neighbourhood of Mayfair, she invited him to her master's house. He was punctual to the appointment, and during his stay treacherously stole a silver spoon of about twelve shillings' value.

Learning that a lady lived at Streatham whose son was abroad, he went to her house and informed her that he was lately arrived in England, and waited upon her by the desire of the young gentleman, to assure her of the continuance of his filial affection. He was invited to partake of the best provisions the house could afford, and entertained with great liberality, kindness and respect. After he had sufficiently refreshed himself, and secreted a large silver spoon in his pocket, he departed.

Upon gaining information that the father of a young gentleman of Bartholomew Lane was abroad, he went to the house and pretended to the youth that he was preparing to embark for the country in which his father resided; saying that, as he was acquainted with the old gentleman, he should be happy to deliver any message or letter, or execute any commission with which the son might think proper to charge him. His reception here was not less hospitable than that he experienced at Streatham, and he did not take leave till he had conveyed a silver cup into his pocket, with which he got off undiscovered. He sold the cup, and expended the money it produced in the most extravagant manner.

Cock went to the house of the captain of a trading vessel in Ratcliff Highway, whom he knew was at sea, expecting that he should be able to amuse his wife by some plausible pretences, and to obtain a booty before he left the house. He was informed that the captain's lady was not at home; but was invited into the house by her mother, who told him that she expected her daughter's return in a very short time. Being shown into the kitchen, he asked the maid-servant for some table-beer, and while she was gone to draw it he secreted a large silver tankard. Upon the maid's bringing the beer he drank heartily, and then, pretending that he had some business to transact which would not permit him to stay any longer, took leave, promising to return on the following day. He sold the tankard to a Jew.

He inquired of a servant-maid in Spitalfields whether there were not some women in that neighbourhood whose husbands were in foreign parts. The girl said the husbands of two or three of her master's neighbours were abroad, and asked the name of the person he desired to find. He said he had forgotten the name, but artfully added that he should remember it upon hearing it repeated; in consequence of which she mentioned some names, and upon his saying that one of them was that of the party he wanted the girl directed him to the house where the wife of his supposed friend resided. He told the woman that he was lately arrived in England, and by her husband's particular desire called to inform her of his being in perfect health when he embarked. He formed some trifling excuse for occasioning the woman to leave the apartment, and soon after her return he went away, taking with him a pint silver tankard and two silver tablespoons.

By the above, and other villainies of a similar nature, he gained a maintenance for several years; but it will now appear that, notwithstanding the art he employed in the pursuit of villainy, he at length fell a just victim to the insulted laws of his country.

Cock went to two ladies in Soho Square in one day, under the pretext of delivering messages from their husbands, who had been several years resident in foreign parts, and was received by them in the most kind and hospitable manner. He had been gone but a short time when one of the ladies missed some silver spoons; in consequence of which he was pursued and taken before a magistrate, and during his examination the other appeared, and on oath identified a silver tankard found in the prisoner's possession. He was committed to Newgate, and at the ensuing sessions at the Old Bailey condemned to suffer death.

During his confinement in Newgate he showed not the least remorse for his past offences, nor employed any part of the short time he had to exist in making the necessary preparation for the awful change he was about to experience; but flattered himself in the expectation of being reprieved. However, after learning that he was ordered for execution, he in some degree corrected the irregularity of his behaviour; but still his conduct was by no means such as might have been expected from a man in his dreadful situation.

He was almost wholly regardless of the devotional exercises at the place of execution, and refused to address the populace, though urged to it by the ordinary.

 

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