Life, last words and dying confession, of Rachel Wall, who, with William Smith and William Dunogan, were executed at Boston, on Thursday, October 8, 1789, for high-way robbery.
Wall, Rachel, 1760-1789.
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Life, Last Words and Dying CONFESSION, OF RACHEL WALL, Who, with William Smith and William Dunogan, were executed at BOSTON, on Thursday, October 8, 1789, for HIGH-WAY ROBBERY.


I RACHEL WALL, was born in the town of Carlisle, in the state of Pennsylvania, in the year 1760, of honest and reputable parents, who were alive and in good health not long since: They gave me a good edu|cation, and instructed me in the funda|mental principles of the Christian Reli|gion, and taught me the fear of God; and if I had followed the good advice 〈…〉 should never have come to this untimely fate. When I left home I had three brothers and two sisters alive and well.

Without doubt the ever-curious Pub|lic, (but more especially those of a seri|ous turn of mind) will be anxious to know every particular circumstance of the Life and Character of a person in my unhappy situation, but in a peculiar manner those relative to my birth and parentage

With regard to my Parents, I have only room in this short Narrative to ob|serve, that my father was a Farmer, who was in good circumstances when I left him. Both my parents being of the Presbyterian, or rather Congregational Persuasion, I was educated in the same way. My father was of a very serious and devout turn of mind, and always made it his constant practice to perform family-prayers in his house every morn|ing and evening; and was very careful to call his children and family together every Sabbath-day evening, to hear the holy scriptures, and other pious books read to them; each one being obliged, after reading was over, to give an answer to such questions in the Assembly's Cate|chism as were proposed to them.

I left my parents without their consent when I was very young, and returning again was received by them, but could not be contented; therefore I tarried with them but two years, before I left them again, and have never seen them since.

I came away with one George Wall, to whom I was lawfully married: If I had never seen him I should not have left my parents. I went with him to Philadel|phia; we tarried there some time, but left that place and went to New-York, where we staid about three months.— From thence we came to Boston, where he tarried with me some time, and then went off, leaving me an entire stranger: Upon which I went to service and lived very contented, and should have remain|ed so, had it not been for my husband; for, as soon as he came back, he enticed me to leave my service and take to bad company, from which I may date my ruin. I hope my unhappy fate will be a solemn warning to him. He went off again and left me, and where he is now I know not 〈…〉 forgive him, as I expect forgiveness at the bar of God, through the merits of my dear Saviour and Redeemer JESUS CHRIST, who is able to save all those that, by faith, come unto him, not re|fusing even the chief of sinners.

I hope my awful and untimely fate will be a solemn warning and caution to every one, but more particularly to the youth, especially those of my own sex.

I acknowledge myself to have been guilty of a great many crimes, such as Sabbath-breaking, stealing, lying, diso|bedience to parents, and almost every other sin a person could commit, except murder; and have not lived in the fear of God, nor regarded the kind admoni|tions and counsels of man.

In short, the many small crimes I have committed, are too numerous to mention in this sheet, and therefore a particular narrative of them here would serve to extend a work of this kind to too great a length; which crimes I most sincerely desire to confess to Almighty God, humbly hoping forgiveness thro' his dear Son.

But as I could heartily wish that the innocent may not suffer with the guilty, I shall, in some degree, deviate from my first intention, by relating the particu|lars of some material transactions of my life, which, perhaps, may serve as a so|lemn warning to the living, of my sex at least; especially to those whom they may more immediately concern: They are as follow, viz.

In one of my nocturnal excursions, when the bright goddess Venus shined conspicuous, and was the predominant Planet among the heavenly bodies, some|time in the spring of 1787, not being able to ascertain the exact time, I happened to go on board a ship, lying at the Long-Wharf, in Boston;—the Captain's name I cannot recollect, but think he was a Frenchman: On my entering the cabin, the door of which not being fa|tened, and finding the Captain and Mate asleep in their beds, I hunted about for plunder, and discovered, under the Cap|tain's head, a black silk handkerchief containing upwards of thirty pounds, in gold, crowns, and small change, on which I immediately sezed the booty and decamped therewith as quick as possible; which money I spent freely in comapny as 〈◊〉 and wicked as myself, fully proving the old adage, "Light come light go."

At another time, I think it was about the year 1788, I brke into a sloop, on board of which I was acquainted, lying at Doane's Wharf, in this town, and finding the Captain and every hand on board a|sleep in the cabin and steerage, I looked round to see what I could help myself to, when I espied a silver watch hanging over the Captain's head, which I pocketed. I also took a pair of silver buckles out of the Captain's shoes: I likewise made free with a parcel of small change for pocket-money, to make myself merry among my evil companions▪ and made my escape without being discovered.

I would beg the patience of the public for only a few minutes, while I relate a|nother adventure that happened in the course of my life, which, were it not for the novelty thereof, might be thought too trifling to mention in this sheet; but with a view of gratifying the curiosity of some particular friends, who have been very kind to me under sentence. I have con|••••ed to give it to the publisher for inser|tion, which is as follows:

Sometime about the year 1785, my husband being confined in the Goal in this place for these, I had a mind to try an expedient to extricate him from his imprisonment, which was to have a brick-loaf baked, in which I contrived to enclose a number of tools, such as a saw, file, &c. in order to assist him to make his escape, which was handed to him by the goaler in person, who little suspected such a trick was playing with him; however, it like to have had the desired effect the crafty contriver intended; for, by means of this stratagem, the poor culprit, Wall, had bu|sily employed himself with the implements that his kind help-mate had in this curi|ous manner conveyed to him, and had nearly effected his design before it was dis|covered.

I do now, in the presence of God, de|clare Miss Dorothy Horn, a crippled per|son in Boston Alms-House, to be entirely innocent of the theft at Mr. Vaughn's in Essex-Street, tho' she suffered a long im|prisonment, was set on the gallows one hour, and whipped five stripes therefor.

As to the crime of Robbery, for which I am in a few hours to suffer an ignomini|ous death. I am entirely innocent to the truth of this declaration I appeal to that God before whom I must shortly appear, to give an account of every transaction of my life.

With regard to the above Robbery, I would beg permission to relate a few par|ticulars, which are, that I had been at work all the preceding day, and was on my way home in the evening, without de|sign to injure any person: in my way I 〈◊〉 a 〈◊〉 in the street; what it was I knew not, until I was taken up; I never saw Miss Bendar (the person I was charg|ed with robbing that evening) and was quite surprised when the crime was laid to my charge. The witnesses who swore a|gainst me are certainly mistaken; but as a dying person I freely forgive them.

I return my sincere thanks to the Hon. gentlemen who were my Judges, for as|signing me counsel, and to them for their kindness in pleading my cause.

I likewise return my hearty thanks to the several Ministers of the town, who have attended me since I have been under sentence: also to a number of other kind friends, for the care they have shewn to me, both for soul and body, which grati|tude obliges me to acknowledge. May God reward them all for their kindness to me.

And now, into the hands of Almighty God I commit my soul, relying on his mercy, through the merits and mediation of my Redeemer, and die an unworthy member of the Presbyterian Church, in the 29th year of my age.

Taken from the prisoner's mouth, a few hours before her execution,

and signed by

  • Rachel Wall.
  • JOSEPH OTIS, Deputy-Goaler.
  • WM. CROMBIE, Assistant.