Hypocritical Cant

A Hell-Bent Soul


An account of the behaviour of Thomas Lovell, alias ‘Bobbish Todger’ in the days leading up to his trial and subsequent execution at Newgate Prison, on tuesday, the 12th of November, 1857. Thomas Lovell was indicted for that he in a certain place, within Grid-Iron Square, near the Queen’s highway, did make an assault upon Constable Qwinty, putting him in coporal fear and danger of his life and stealing from his person a truncheon worth one guinea and a whistle worth five shillings. He was a second time indicted for that he did make an assault upon Corporal Gerald Buckner of the 8th Hussars, putting him in fear and danger of his life and stealing from his person a cutlass worth forty shillings. Thomas Lovell was, of late, a silk mill worker who having found himself placed on much reduced hours by the mill owner Sir Harold Rutherford, took to the streets of London to protest the financial and material degradation of him and his family.

“T’was when the union rep spoke, that my heart first became a-fired within me, and I betook me the truncheon of the first enemy of promise that I encountered and that were that”

A’las Thomas Lovell displayed no repentance with regards to his two recorded assaults and even less once he had learned that in consequence of his reprehensible actions he wa to be executed a day hence.

“T’was all I would have expected from them as has the power and naught of the compassion to see to it that us poor folk is as comfortable in life as they. I do not fear what comes after this life, my only worry is as to what will become of my Alice and our three young uns”

It was pointed out to the condemned man that what with the proliferation of executions there would be plenty of vacancies at the match factory and that his ‘young uns’ might very well find work there; at which news his eyes rolled back in his head, he gnashed his teeth and tried to grip my throat. Needless to say the prison warden was markedly short with the prisoner, rapping him thrice upon the head, much to my horror, and warning him that he’d ‘do for him right this minute’ if he continued to display such poor manners. Whereupon the prisoner stifled a sob and moderated his behaviour.

Having examined the death warrant and found himself in it, the prisoner wept bitterly and as he could neither read nor write I took laborious pains to ensure that he was adequately instructed in his preparations for eternity. When asked how frequently he attended the Chapel of St Gove he replied “as frequently as Alice required me to” in other words not very frequently at all. And when he did attend it was only to fall asleep in his pew and sweat off the beers he had drunk from the night before. Indeed such t’was the spiritual condition of this unhappy man that t’was a wonder that he and the hang man had not met long before now.

I could not help but to wonder what efficacious transformations might have been wrought in this prisoner had his parents but trained him up in the right way. Having prepared him for his fate the prison warden saw fit to have him haltered and pinnioned in readiness for his execution. This sorry process was accompanied by many tears on the prisoner’s part, but he himself acknowledged that the punishment was just, his having presumed to tell his betters what the nature of a fair wage and fair working conditions were. “T’were wrong of us to presume that the bosses prosperity would benefit us and we have paid the price for our presumption”

I left the prisoner with a humble copy of the testimonies of Gove (bound in cured and tanned turkey twizzler leather) in order that he might reflect all the more on his past behaviour and the eternal bliss (or damnation) which awaited him.

An ACCOUNT of the BEHAVIOUR Of Thomas Lovell (alias Bobbish Todger) prior to his execution, RECOUNTED by virtue of the Queen’s commission of the peace, Julius Eyre.