Giving a Just and true Account of one Iohn Wise, who together with Richard Iones, and Charles Tooley yet untaken, did one Sunday night being the twentieth of April, commit that Barbarous and Unnatural Murther on Elizabeth Fairbank, Widdow, who lived in a Seller, at Picadilly, that Robbed and Rifled her, being of Money and Plate, and Rings, for which fact Iohn Wise at present was found guilty, and accordingly received the due Sentance of Death, the which was Executed on Friday, the 17tnth, of this instant October, 1684. at PICKADILLY.


Three men, John Wise, Richard Jones, and Charles Tooley rob a widow and murder her; Jones and Tooley go on the run the next day but Wise is arrested. Tooley confesses on his deathbed, which his wife reveals and the other two are then punished. The last two stanzas are in Wise's voice.

Digital Object

Image notice

Full size images of all ballad sheets available at the bottom of this page.

Image / Audio Credit

Magdalene College - Pepys Library, Pepys Ballads 2.153; EBBA 20771. Audio recording by Molly McKew.

Set to tune of...


O H! this would make a stony heart Lament,
That men should be so vild and insolent:
They will proceed in their unlawful trade,
Though many still are sad examples made.

They'l Rob, and will defraud men of their due
Not fearing any thing that will ensue:
And in A Pitious course of Life run on,
Contrary to the Law of God and man.

Thus do they work their wits both night and day,
Still to contrive how they may work their prey:
Their wills are working to a base intent,
But yet at last too late they may repent.

When people by their care doth something save,
They'l Rob them of their lives for what they have:
This is the highest act of Villany,
Their guiltless blood it will for Vengeance cry.

Alas, that any Murther should lye hid,
From true Discovery, the Lord forbid:
Though they commit it ne'r so secretly,
They cannot hide from Gods all-seeing-eye.

Last April the twentieth day at night,
Those Villains did commit a sad Exploit:
Three Criminals together they agreed,
And did commit a Murther there indeed--

The Widdow Fairbank as it's known full well,
She in a Cellar all alone did dwell:
To whom those Villains went without delay,
And of her life and goods they made their pray.

They with a Hankerchief did stop her breath,
They also broke her neck, thus wrought her death;
They robbed her, and then away they fled,
And leaving of her murthered on the Bed.

At length it seems one coming down that night,
Where they beheld this sad and dismal sight,
Undoubtedly it did them much surprize,
To see this sudden change before their eyes.

Those Criminals made their escape away,
That night to Westminster without delay:
Then Richard Jones, Charls Tooley, and John Wise,
Among them they did share that fatal prize.

Next day they were in a most wooful case,
Their very Conscience flying in their face,
When Jones and Tooley thought of what they'd done
They were possest with fear, and forc'd to run.

But Wise was taken, and in Prison cast,
And Tooleys wife returned again at last:
Then all their Villany was open laid,
By what her Husband on his Death-bed said.

Thus may we see, how Murthers are found out
By what strange means it may be brought about:
For God who is the Righteous Judge of all,
Such Criminals he will to Justice call.

Wise was Arraigned, in process of time,
And was found Guilty of this cruel Crime:
He then received Sentence for to dye,
The Just reward of this his Cruelty.

Now may this grieve some hundreds for to see,
That he deserv'd to dye so shamefully:
O that his death may now a warning be,
To every one of high or low degree.

All you that sees or hears my fatal end,
Observe my words, to you a dying friend:
In evil Courses never take delight,
It is the ready Rode to ruine quite.

I do Repent that e're I run astray,
I might have lived many a happy day:
My Wicked life has hastned death more soon,
And now my Morning Sun goes down at Noon.

Method of Punishment



robbery, murder



Execution Location


Printing Location

Printed for I. Deacon, at the Angel in Guiltspur-street,/ without Newgate.

Tune Data

Fortune my foe, is also known as, Aim not too high


criminals cruelty.mp3


“CRIMINALS CRUELTY.,” Execution Ballads, accessed June 16, 2024,

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