The Confession of Richard Brandon the Hangman (upon his Death bed) concerning His beheading his late Majesty, Charles the first, King of Great Britain; and his Protestation and Vow touching the same; the manner how he was terrified in Conscience; the Apparitions and Visions which appeared unto him; the great judgment that befell him three days before he died; and the manner how he was carried to White-Chappell Church-yard on Thursday night last; the strange Actions that happened thereupon; With the merry conceits of the Crown Cook and his providing mourning Cords for the Burial.
The Confession of the Hangman concerning His beheading his late Majesty the King of Great Britain (upon his Death bed) who was buried on Thursday night last, in white Chappell Church-yard, with the manner thereof.
Upon Wednesday last (being the 20 of this instant June, 1649.) Richard Brandon, the late Executioner and Hang-man, who beheaded his late Majesty, King of Great Britain, departed this life; But during the time of His sickness, his Conscience was much troubled, and exceedingly perplexed in mind, yet little shew of repentance, for remission of his sins, and by-past transgressions, which had so much power and influence upon him, that he seemed to live in them and they in him. And upon Sunday last, a young man of his acquaintance going in to visit him, fell into discourse, asked him how he did, and whether he was not troubled in conscience for cutting off of the King's head?
He replied, yes! by reason that (upon the time of his trial, and at the denouncing of Sentence against him) he had taken a vow and protestation, Wishing God to perish him body and soul, if ever he appeared on the scaffold to do the act or lift up his hand against him.
Further acknowledging, That he was no sooner entered upon the scaffold, but immediately he fell a trembling, and hath ever since continued in the like agony.
He likewise confessed, that he had 30 pounds for his pains, all paid him in half Crowns, within an hour after the blow was given, and that he had an Orange stuck full of Cloves, and a handkircher out of the Kings pocket, so soon as he was carried off from the Scaffold, for which Orange, he was proffered 20 shillings by a Gentleman in Whitehall, but refused the same, and afterwards sold it for ten shillings in Rosemary Lane.
About 6 of the clock at night, he returned home to his wife living in Rosemary lane, and gave her the money, saying, That it was the dearest money that ever he earned in his life, for it would cost him his life. Which prophetical words were soon made manifest; for it appeared, that ever since he hath been in a most sad condition, and upon the Almighty's first scourging of him with the Rod of meekness, and the friendly admonition of divers friends, for the calling of him to repentance, yet he persisted on in his vicious Vices, and would not hearken thereunto, but lay raging and swearing, and still pointing at one thing or another, which he conceived to appear visible before him.
About three days before he died he lay speechless, uttering many a sigh and heavy groan, and so in a most desperate manner departed from his bed of sorrow. For the burial whereof, a great store of Wines were sent in, by the Sheriff of the City of London, and a great multitude of people stood waiting to see his Corps carried to the Church-yard, some crying out, Hang him Rogue, bury him in the Dung-hill; others pressing upon him, saying, They would quarter him, for executing of the King: Insomuch, that the Church-wardens and Masters of the Parish were fain to come for the suppressing of them, and (with great difficulty) he was at last carried to White-chapel Church-yard, having (as it is said) a bunch of Rosemary at each end of the coffin, on the top thereof, with a Rope tied cross from one end to the other.
And a merry conceited Cook living at the sign of the Crown, having a black Fan (worth the value of 30 shillings) took a resolution to rent the same in pieces, and to every feather tied a piece of pack-thread dyed in black Ink, and gave them to divers persons, who (in derision) for a while, wore them in their hats.
Thus have I given thee an exact account and perfect relation of the life and death of Richard Brandon, to the end, that the World may be convinced of those calumnious speeches, an erroneous suggestions, which are daily spit from the mouth of Envy, against divers persons of great worth and eminency, by casting an Odium upon them, for the executing of the King; it being now made manifest, that the aforesaid Executioner was the only man that gave the feral blow, and his man that waited upon him, was a Ragman living in Rosemary Lane.
Upon a late dispute and engagement between the two Navies at Sea, great was the resolution and gallantry on both sides; and for the space of many hours the Victory seemed doubtful; but in the heat of the Conflict, Divine providence proved a Banner to the Parliaments party, and Fortune so attended their several motions in their heroic achievements, that they soon became Victors over their insulting Enemies, and in a short space dispersed that formidable Fleet, who for many months have lain raging upon the Neptune Seas, and forbid the two unfortunate Princes to take sanctuary in Harbours; so that now the Citizens of London may receive comfort from the Ocean, and the Merchants and others proceed unanimously in free Trade and Commerce without fear or molestation; The facilitating whereof, may cause thousands to rejoice, and sing hallelujah, for the vanquishing of this potent Enemy; it being affirmed, that since our first engagement with them, we have re-taken above 30 ships and prizes, 200 pieces of Ordnance, and at least 400 prisoners. We hear that Prince Charles upon the 15 instant, with the Prince, and Princess royal about six of the clock in the morning went to Dort, so far the Queen of Bohemia, brought him on his way. The 11th of June the Electoress of Brandenburg, went toward Cleave, by Vinen, Rhenea. The 17th of June, Prince Charles went from Breda toward Bruxels; where an Earl hath order to receive his highness. There is a Col. left in the Hague, who is to buy arms for ten thousand men. There passing a boat from England to Ostend, with divers English they were set upon by some English, who lie there and rove to get booty. The Passengers were in great fear at which one of them stood up, and said to the Pirates, I have lately broke out of Newgate, being a prisoner for King Charles, and these are all my friends, therefore do them no harm? at which they cried, Vive la Roy, and bid them pass there should none of them be touched.
They tell us that come from Edinburgh, that Scotland is quiet, and that the Parliament hath no enemy in arms, in any part of that Kingdom, which is sufficiently confirmed by the soldiers beginning to be unruly and unseparable concomitant to idleness, which hath been complained of by the Parliament, and Ministers, which occasioned the Gen. Excellency, the E. of Levin, write to the Lieu. Gen. that there might be a meeting of all the chief officers, for redress of all grievances, and for ordering matters, so that nothing might obstruct the work in hand: the particular which fetched in this Gen, was that there were English Cavaliers scattered up and down in the army, some whereof had entertainment, others shelter which actions it were necessary to remove, and retain only those who of them were honest Covenanters. There is displeasure taken, that letters between Newcastle and this place going for Scotland, were intercepted and opened, which is likely to procure the like, and is already threatened; displeasure is apt to catch: Dr. Sibbald the Physician, is discharged of his imprisonment upon the Fine of 500 Scotch marks, he saith let them take what they will, he will not recant his paper, and will rather choose to suffer the most ignominious death at the openest place in Edinburgh.
The Gent. that brought the letter from Parliament of England, of having neither countenance nor answer, nor is like to have if the deportment be evidence of respect to this nation, there's little if an answer should be returned, as it's unlikely, or not like to be sudden, it will be sent in all probability by messengers of their own.
The Commis. are at last returned from their declared King and landed at Kirkaldy: the pure Royalists say that there is no agreement brought (whether with joy or sorrow these expressions are made appears not: the Sages and knowing Divines seem cheerful, and express that Scotland hath cause to bless God for the great condescension or so much compliance in their King, and this seems to be the more probable: yet some begin to think it may now be in their power to act or speak at least in favor of their friends in England.
Berwick the 18 June 1649.
One thing I had almost forgotten, which may give some satisfaction to the Reader, viz. That a little before the death of the aforesaid Richard Brandon, he being in some discourse with a neighbour, touching his executing of the King, said, That even at the very point of time when he was to give the blow, a great pain and ache took him round the neck, and hath ever since continued, and that he never slept quietly in mind saying, that his Majesties denying to forgive him, when he fell down upon his knees unto him, hath very much troubled his conscience, and that he was afraid to walk along the streets, or to go to his bed and sleep without a candle burning. The other fellow that was upon the Scaffold, that went in the name of his man, was one Ralph Jones a Rag-man, who liveth in Rosemary Lane; and he who now takes his place (as Executioner) is one William Loe, a Dust carrier, and cleaner of the Dunghills.