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Black-letter Broadside Ballads Of The years 1595-1639

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76
Murder upon murder
Wood 401 (129), B.L., four woodcuts, five columns. The first column is badly mutilated: missing words and letters in stanzas 1-4 have been supplied in square brackets.
The melodious tears offered in this ballad to the memory of two notorious criminals may account for the references that were made to them for years after their execution. Thus in Merlinus Anonymus, for 1653, March 21 and March 29 are designated as "fest days" in honour of Canbury Bess and Country Tom; in Montelion, 1660, Or, The Prophetical Almanack (sig. Bv), January 3 and 4 are dedicated to them; and in Montelion, 1661 (sig. Bv), January 2 and 3.
In the Obituary of Richard Smyth (ed. Ellis, Camden Society, p. 10) occur the entries:
1635 Apr[il]. 14. Tho. Sherwood hanged in chains in Grays Inne Fields for the murther of Mr Claxton and Holt. 17. Eliz. Evans hanged also there for ye same murther.
A full account of the two is given in H. G[oodcole]'s pamphlet called Heavens Speedie Hue and Cry sent after Lust and Murther, 1635 (British Museum, C. 27. c. 17). Goodcole tells that Canbury Bess and Country Tom killed (1) Rowland Holt, merchant, in Clerkenwell Fields, in Janu­ary, 1635; (2) Lieutenant Thomas Claxton, of London, on April I; and (3) Michael Lowe. Their arrest, trial, and execution came in rapid suc­cession. Sherwood was hanged on April 14, and made a most edifying end. At the gallows he confessed and lamented his crimes, sang part of the fifty-first Psalm, "and after that by his request was sung the Lamentation of a sinner'''' [i.e. the ballad of "Fortune, my foe"]. Thereupon, he "ioy-fully embraced" his death, while all the highly edified spectators prayed aloud for his soul. His body was hanged in chains at Battle-bridge, near Pancras Church, where such crowds of people swarmed to see it that fields and growing crops were trodden into slush and mire. The irate owners of the land surrounding the gibbet petitioned the King and Privy Council to remove the body. Shortly afterward, it was moved to the "Ring-Cross beyond Islington." After the execution of Elizabeth Evans, on April 17, her body "was conveied to Barber Surgions Hal for a Skeleton
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