Thomas Cook

Perp: Thomas Cook

Crime : Murder

The Victim: A constable

Weapon of Choice : Sword

Motive: Police were trying to close down May-fair in London because it attracted people of ill repute!

Date : 1703

Punishment : Executed

Location : Old Bailey

The Story 

THE death of this person exhibits the singular fatality which attends some men who have been guilty of crime. Cook was the son of a butcher, who was considered a person of respectability, residing at Gloucester. He was apprenticed to a barber-surgeon in London ; but running away before his time bad expired, he entered the service of one of the pages of honour to William III.; but he soon after quitted this situation to set up at Gloucester as a butcher, upon the recommendation of his mother.

Restless, however, in every station of life, he repaired to London, where he commenced prize-fighter at May-fair ; which, at this time, was a place greatly frequented by prize-fighters, thieves, and women of bad character. Here puppet-shows were exhibited, and it was the favourite resort of all the profligate and abandoned, until at length the nuisance increased to such a degree, that Queen Anne issued her Proclamation for the Suppression of Vice and Immorality, with a particular view to this fair ; in consequence of which the justices of peace issued their warrant to the high constable, who summoned all the inferior constables to his assistance.

When they came to suppress the fair, Cook, with a mob of about thirty soldiers, and other persons, stood in defiance of the peace-officers, and threw brickbats at them, by which some of them were wounded. Cooper, a constable, being the most active, Cook drew his sword and stabbed him in the belly, and he died of the wound at the expiration, of four days.

Hereupon Cook fled to Ireland, and, as it was deposed upon his trial, while he was in a public house, he swore in a profane manner, for which the landlord censured him, and told him there were persons in the house who would take him in custody for it; to which he answered, " Are there any of the informing dogs in Ireland ? We in London drive them ; for at a fair called May-fair, there was a noise which I went out to see—six soldiers and myself—the constables played their parts with their staves, and I played mine; and, when the man dropped, I wiped my sword, put it up, and went away."

The fellow was, subsequently, taken into custody, and sent to Chester, whence being removed to London, he was tried at the Old Bailey, was convicted, and received sentence of death.

After conviction he solemnly denied the crime for which he had been condemned, declaring that he had no sword in his hand on the day the constable was killed, and was not in company with those who killed him.

Having received the sacrament on the 21st of July, 1703, he was taken from Newgate to be carried to Tyburn; but, when he had got to High Holborn, opposite Bloomsbury, a respite arrived for him till the following Friday. On his return to Newgate he was visited by numbers of his acquaintance, who rejoiced on his narrow escape. On Friday he received another respite till the 11th of August, but on that day he was executed.