A Coppy of the Prisoners Jvdgement Condemned Tody from Nvgate on Mundaie the 13 of Decemb: 1641.London, Thomas Paine, Goldsmiths Alley in Red Crosse Streete, 1641
FIRST EDITION. Small 4to, pp. , 6. Roman letter, some Italic. Full page execution woodcut on verso of title page, ornamental woodcut headpiece, floriated woodcut initial 1, floriated tail piece with ‘FINIS.’ at end. A bit browned, some foxing and inner margin of title-page repaired; strengthened at others. Slightly shaved at head affecting one letter of title. In 1/4 calf gilt over C19 marbled boards, speckled brown at edges. Spine with gilt linear decoration.
‘…VVith the Examination of the Bishop of Calcedon, and the rest of the Jesuits condemned to die: and the names of the other prisoners condemned, and the matter for which they suffer. VVhereunto is added the names of those who deny the oath of supremacy. Shewed first to the Officers of the prison and after to one of the Iury that so the truth might be printed.’ Rare first edition of the list of 31 prisoners condemned at Newgate prison in the City of London on the 13th December 1641 and the crimes for which they had been convicted. The Puritan-dominated city led to Jesuits being routinely arrested and charged during the Civil War; indeed the first seven entries are Catholic priests or men linked to the Pope charged with high treason, followed by others from varying backgrounds with crimes ranging with pickpocketing to horse-stealing and buggery.
The Jesuits’ judgements commence the listing, underlining their primary importance; the elderly Bishop of Calcedon (Edmund Cannon) is mentioned on p. 2 as being condemned to be ‘hang’d, drawn and quartered’ having worked unmolested for many years. John Hammond, a Jesuit found guilty of high treason, is mentioned in Gillow as having left behind a donation of £120 “to translate and print Dr. Stratford’s Controversy and Mr. Broughton’s his History.” (Gillow p. 176). Entry no. 5 describes Walter Coleman, a ‘tall black man’ accused of disseminating the practices of the Catholic pope in his native country of Britain. Description of the characters and appearance of the men reflects the contemporary and enduring interest in the correlation between a person’s physiognomy and criminal behaviour. Notable entries include no. 13 describing criminal John Davis as ‘a lusty stout personable man’, Francis Fleming who sliced a shoe-maker’s hand off during a fit of rage, and the criminal duo Matthew Chenering and Elizabeth Lee who collaborated to steal gentlemen’s cloaks: the latter laid with the victim while the former made away with his clothing.
Newgate Prison was an infamous site where 1,169 recorded people were executed over its long history. It is mentioned extensively by writers and artists including Chaucer and Doré and part was rebuilt by Christopher Wren in 1672.
The attractive naïve-style woodcut illustrates a man hanging to his death with two onlookers applauding. Depth is indicated by flora and mood is denoted through the anguished expression of the protagonist’s face and the dark billowing clouds in the upper frame.Only two copies recorded by ESTC in the UK; four in the US. ESTC R12550; Wing (2nd ed. 1994) C6221; Thomason E.180.