The Newgate Calendar - ARTHUR BAILEY


Executed at Ilchester, 11th of September, 1811, for stealing a Letter from the Post Office at Bath

   THIS unfortunate man, previous to his detection in the crime for which he suffered, lived in credit, and bore an unblemished character, supporting an amiable wife and several children by his industry. He had long been in the confidence of the postmaster of Bath, who entrusted him with sorting the letters, making up the mails, etc.

   Though robberies had been frequently practised upon the office, and letters missed, yet it was some time ere suspicion fell upon Bailey as the plunderer. At length, however, justice, slow yet sure, overtook him. He was convicted, at the Summer Assizes for Somersetshire, of stealing from the Bath Post Office a letter containing bills, the property of Messrs Slack, linen-drapers, and of forging an endorsement on one of the said bills.

   Shortly after his conviction, Mr Bridle, the keeper of the jail, gave him a list of several letters reported to have been lost from the Bath Post Office, and which it was supposed he must have had some knowledge of. On this he wrote: "I have clearly examined this list, and there is only one I really know of, and that I have received the benefit of -- must beg to be excused from saying which. -- A. B." On another part of it he added: "It has been said I have had concerns with others in the Post Office; now I do positively declare to God that I had no concerns with anyone. -- A. B." Bailey had some hopes of a reprieve till Monday, when his solicitor informed him that all applications to the Secretary of State, the Postmaster-General, and the judge who tried him, were in vain. As the prisoner could be brought to acknowledge only the crime for which he had been convicted, the under-sheriff, in consequence of several letters he had received to that effect, thought he might be brought to make a further confession; consequently, on Tuesday morning, after he had taken an affectionate and distressing leave of his wife and six children, and received the Sacrament, and had been left to himself and his own reflections some hours, Mr Melliar, with much humanity, again urged him on the matter, mentioning particular letters that had been lost; to which Bailey firmly replied: "I must request, sir, you will not press me further on this subject. I have made a solemn engagement with Almighty God that I will not disclose more than I have done, which I think would be a heinous and additional sin to break; if I had not made this engagement I would readily, sir, answer all your questions, and remove all difficulties." Afterwards he observed: "I am about to suffer for what has been truly proved against me. All the rest must die with me."

   He was taken out of prison a little after eight o'clock in the morning, and placed in a cart, attended by Mr Melliar, the under-sheriff, and the chaplain of the prison, in a chaise. He showed the greatest firmness on the way to the fatal tree, and when under the gallows he joined fervently in prayer, and addressed the spectators audibly: "I hope you will all take warning"; then, holding a Prayer Book in his hand: " I beg you to look often into this book, and you will not come to shame. Be sure to be honest, and not covet money, cursed money! -- and particularly money that is not your own." He was then deprived of his mortal state of existence, dying without a struggle.

Prev Next