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Being released from the messenger's house, he revolved in his mind a variety of schemes for eluding the importunity of his creditors, and at length determined to embark for Holland.
He remained in Holland a few months, and when his money was nearly expended he returned to England. A few days after his arrival in London, he went to a masquerade, where he engaged in play to the hazard of every shilling he possessed, and was so fortunate as to obtain a sufficient sum for his maintenance for several months.
His circumstances being again distressed, he wrote in pressing terms to his brother-in-law, who was an East India director, intreating that he would procure him a commission in the Company's service, either by land or sea. The purport of the answer was, that a gentleman in the Temple was authorized to give the supplicant a guinea, but that it would be fruitless for him to expect any further favours.
Having written a counterfeit draft, he went to Ranelagh on a masque. rade night, where he passed it to a gentleman who had won some small sums of him. The party who received the draft offered it for payment in a day or two afterwards, when it was proved to be a counterfeit; in consequence of which Parsons was apprehended, and committed to Wood-street Compter.
As no prosecutor appeared, Parsons was necessarily acquitted; but a detainer being lodged, charging him with an offence similar to the above, he was removed to Maidstone Gaol, in order for trial at the Lent Assizes at Rochester.
Mr. Carey, the keeper of the prison, treated Parsons with great humanity, allowing him to board in his family, and indulging him in every privilege that he could grant, without a manifest breach of the duties of his office. But such was the ingratitude of Parsons, that he formed a plan, which, had it taken effect, would have utterly ruined the man to whom he was indebted in such great obligations. His intention was, privately to take the keys from Mr. Carey's apartment; and not only to escape himself, but even to give liberty to every prisoner in the gaol: and this scheme he communicated to a man accused of being a smuggler, who reported the matter to Mr. Carey, desiring him to listen at an appointed hour at night, when he would hear a conversation that would prove his intelligence to be authentic. Mr. Carey attended at the appointed time, and being convinced of the ingratitude and perfidy of Parsons, he abridged him of the indulgences he had before enjoyed, and caused him to be closely confined.
Being convicted at the assizes at Rochester, he was sentenced to transportation for seven years; and in the following September he was put on board the Thames, Captain Dobbins, bound for Maryland, in company with upwards of one hundred and seventy other convicts, fifty of whom died in the voyage. In November, 1749, Parsons was landed at Annapolis, in Maryland, and having remained in a state of slavery about seven weeks, a gentleman of considerable property and influence, who was not wholly unacquainted with his family, compassionating his unfortunate situation, obtained his freedoin, and received him at his house in a most kind and hospitable manner.
Parsons had not been in the gentleman's family many days before he rode off with a horse which was lent him by his benefactor, and proceeded towards Virginia; on the borders of which country he stopped a
gentleman on horseback, and robbed him of five pistoles, a moidore, and ten dollars.
A few days after, he stopped a lady and gentleman in a chaise, attended by a negro servant, and robbed them of eleven guineas and some silver : after which he directed his course to the Potomack river, where finding a ship nearly ready to sail for England, he embarked, and after a passage of twenty-five days landed at Whitehaven.
He now produced a forged letter, in the name of one of his relations, to a capital merchant of Whitehaven, signifying that he was entitled to the family estate, in consequence of his father's decease, and prevailed upon him to discount a false draft upon a banker in London for seventyfive pounds.
Upon his arrival in the metropolis, he hired a handsome lodging at the west end of the town; but he almost constantly resided in houses of ill fame, where the money he had so unjustifiably obtained was soon dissipated.
Having hired a horse, he rode to Hounslow-heath, where, between ten and eleven o'clock at night, he stopped a post-chaise, in which were two gentlemen, whom he robbed of five guineas, some silver, and a watch.
A short time afterwards he stopped a gentleman near Turnham-green, about twelve o'clock at night, and robbed him of thirty shillings, and a gold ring. The latter, the gentleman requested might be returned, as it was his wife's wedding ring. Parsons complied with the request, and voluntarily returned five shillings, saying at the same time, that nothing but the most pressing necessity could have urged him to the robbery; after which the gentleman shook hands with the robber, assuring him that, on account of the civility of his behaviour he would not appear to prosecute, if he should hear of his being apprehended.
He attempted to rob a coach and four near Kensington, but hearing some company on the road, he proceeded towards Hounslow, and on his way thither overtook a farmer, and robbed him of between forty and fifty shillings. He then took the road to Colnbrook, and robbed a man servant of two guineas and a half, and a silver watch. After this he rode to Windsor, and returned to London by a different road.
His next expedition was on the Hounslow-road; and at the entrance of the heath he stopped two gentlemen, and robbed them of seven guineas, some silver and a curiously wrought silver snuff-box.
Returning to his lodgings near Hyde-park-corner one evening, he overtook a footman in Piccadilly, and joining company with him, a familiar conversation took place, in the course of which Parsons learnt that the other was to set out early on the following Sunday with a portmanteau, containing cash and notes to a considerable value, the property of his master, who was then at Windsor.
On the Sunday morning he rode towards Windsor, intending to rob the footman. Soon after he had passed Turnham-green, he overtook two gentlemen, one of whom was Mr. Fuller, who had prosecuted him at Rochester, and who perfectly recollecting his person, warned him not to approach. He however paid no attention to what Mr. Fuller said, but still continued sometimes behind and sometimes before them, though at a very inconsiderable distance.
Upon coming into the town of Hounslow, the gentlemen alighted, and commanded Parsons to surrender, adding, that if he did not instantly
comply, they would alarm the town. He now dismounted, and earnestly entreated that he might be permitted to speak to them in private, which they consented to; and the parties being introduced to a room at an inn, Parsons surrendered his pistols, which were loaded and primed, and supplicated for mercy in the most pathetic terms.
In all probability he would have been permitted to escape, had not Mr. Day, landlord of the Rose and Crown at Hounslow, come into the room, and advised that he might be detained, as he conceived him very nearly to answer the description of a highwayman by whom the roads in that part of the country had been long infested. He was secured at the inn till the next day, and then examined by a magistrate, who committed him to Newgate.
Parsons was now arraigned for returning from transportation before the expiration of the term of his sentence: nothing therefore was necessary to convict him but the identifying of his person. This being done, he received sentence of death. His distressed father and wife used all their interest to obtain a pardon for him, but in vain he was an old offender, and judged by no means a fit object for mercy.
While Parsons remained in Newgate, his behaviour was such that it could not be determined whether he entertained a proper idea of his dreadful situation. There is indeed but too much reason to fear that the hopes of a reprieve (in which he deceived himself even to the last moments of his life) induced him to neglect the necessary preparation for eternity.
His taking leave of his wife afforded a scene extremely affecting he recommended to her parental protection his only child, and regretted that his misconduct had put it in the power of a censorious world to reflect upon both the mother and son.
He joined with fervent zeal in the devotional exercises, at the place of execution.
THE CASTLES AND MANSIONS OF GREAT BRITAIN AND IRELAND.
Coningsburgh, co. York.
"We do love these ancient ruins;
FEW of" the Castles of England" can be traced to so remote a period as Coningsburgh. Authentic evidence carries the historical enquirer to Saxon times, and by the shadowy light of tradition, he may ascend even to the period of the early Britons. A mound near the castle is still pointed out as the tomb of Hengist, the Saxon chief, who is recorded by Jeffery of Monmouth to have been defeated under the walls of the fortress, by Aurelius Ambrosius, King of Britain, and to have suffered decapitation. Leaving, however, the dubious ways of tradition, we find, from the Norman Survey, that at the time of the Conquest, Coningsburgh was the head of a very extensive fee, and that this fee, consolidated in Saxon times, had belonged, under the peaceful rule of the Confessor, to Earl Harold, who subsequently ascended the throne, and eventually fell at Hastings. By the Conqueror, it was granted entire to WILLIAM DE WARREN, husband of his daughter Gundred, and in their descendants it remained, with one slight interval, until the reign of Edward III. We will not here enter on the history of the illustrious house of Warren; suffice it to say, that it was one of the most powerful in peace and in war, of the many that overawed the kingly authority of the early Plantagenets. At the decease, in 1347, of John de Warren, 8th Earl of Surrey, without legitimate issue, Coningsburgh fell to the Crown, and, within seven-and-thirty days after, was settled on EDMUND OF LANGLEY, a younger son of the King, Edward III. This prince, whom Hardyng describes as more addicted" to hunte, and also to hawkeyng,” than to the duties of " the councell and the parlyament," held, in peculiar esteem, his Yorkshire demesne, affording as it did unrivalled opportunities for enjoying the sports of the field. He spent there no small portion of his time, and his name, consequently, appears less frequently than those of his brothers, in the public affairs of the reigns of Edward and Richard. By his father he was created Earl of Cambridge, and by his nephew, the second Richard, advanced to the Dukedom of York. He married one of the two daughters and coheirs of Peter the Cruel, King of Castile and Leon, and brought his Spanish bride to Coningsburgh, where she constantly resided, and where she gave birth to her second son, Richard, who, according to the fashion of the Plantagenets, was surnamed" of Coningsburgh," from the place of his nativity. This prince married the Lady Anne Mortimer, daughter of Roger, Earl of March, and great granddaughter of Lionel, Duke of Clarence, and thus brought to the House of York the claim to the Crown, which originated the Wars of the Roses. This alliance with the discontented family of Mor
timer, may have probably estranged the Earl of Cambridge from his allegiance, and have led him into the conspiracy which cost him his life; he was beheaded in 1415, leaving his widow (Maud Clifford, a lady whom he had espoused after the death of his first wife, Anna Mortimer,) in possession of Coningsburgh. The Countess of Cambridge, in her long widowhood, for she lived 'till 1446, resided much in Yorkshire, and had many transactions with the families around. At her decease; her stepson, Richard Plantagenet, Duke of York, succeeded to the great estates of his father, and not long after asserted his right to the diadem of England. The contest that ensued is too well known to need more than a passing word: at the Battle of Wakefield, fought within a short distance of the Castle of Coningsburgh, Richard, Duke of York, met his death, leaving his son, Edward, Earl of March, the inheritor of his claim and his spirit. The next year occurred the great Battle of Towton, in which the White Rose triumphed, and the Earl ascended the throne as Edward IV. The Lords of Coningsburgh thus became Kings of England, and so continued until the castle and demesne lands were granted, by patent, by Queen Elizabeth to her kinsman, Henry Cary, Lord Hunsdon. In the interval, however, this princely residence was almost utterly deserted, and the gradual decay of the buildings which formed the residence of the Warrens, and the early princes of the house of York, may be dated from this era. With the Carys, Coningsburgh remained for about a century. Their eventual heiress, Lady Mary Cary, only child of John Cary, Lord Hunsdon and Earl of Dover, married William Heveningham, Esq., of Heveningham, in Sussex, one of King Charles' judges, and died immensely rich in 1696, when her property descended to her granddaughter and heiress Cary Newton, who wedded Edward Coke, Esq., of Holkham, in Norfolk, and had three sons and two daughters. The eldest of the former was Thomas Coke, created Earl of Leicester in 1744 and the second, Edward Coke, Esq., of Longford, co. Derby, who succeeded to Coningsburgh, and died in the prime of life, A.D. 1733. In pursuance of the directions contained in his will, his Yorkshire estates were sold in 1737, and became the property of Thomas, fourth Duke of Leeds, one of whose principal seats, Kiveton, formed an ancient member of the Soke of Coningsburgh. Sir Walter Scott, in his exquisite romance of Ivanhoe, has thrown the halo of his genius over this celebrated fortress: "There are," says the poet of the North, "few more beautiful or striking scenes in England, than are presented by the vicinity of this ancient fortress. The soft and gentle river Don sweeps through an amphitheatre, in which cultivation is richly blended with woodland, and on a mount, ascending from the river, well defended by walls and ditches, rises this ancient edifice, which, as its Saxon name implies, was, previous to the Conquest, a royal residence of the Kings of England. The outer walls have probably been added by the Normans, but the inner keep bears token of very great antiquity. It is situated on a mount at one angle of the inner court, and forms a complete circle of, perhaps, twenty-five feet in diameter. The wall is of immense thickness, and is propped or defended by six huge external buttresses, which project from the circle and rise up against the sides of the tower, as if to strengthen or to support it. These massive buttresses are hollowed out towards the top, and terminate in a sort of turrets, communicating with the interior of the keep itself. The distant appearance of this huge building, with these singular accompaniments, is as interesting to the