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William Bond of St Vedast

William Bond

(d. 1721)

Parishioner and Convicted Thief


St Vedast

Researched by Sara Carroll

William Bond of St Vedast alias Foster parish was tried at the Old Bailey on 2 March 1720 on a charge of grand larceny: stealing goods over the value of one shilling.

William was indicted for stealing around twelve books on 1 February 1720 from Anthony Barker, a bookseller in Gutter Lane. William was alleged to have offered various books for sale to a Mr Slater in Petty France, who doubted William’s ownership and after buying some of the books himself, reported his suspicions to Barker. Four books were specifically named and produced at the trial, including Boyce on the Thirty Nine articles. No one spoke up for William who claimed in his defence that he was given the books by an unidentified man while drinking at the Magpie Inn in Bishopsgate Street. William Bond was therefore found guilty and sentenced to seven years transportation. Twenty seven people were similarly sentenced to transportation between 1 and 3 March, some sailing with William.

Between 53 and 60 convicted prisoners, both male and female, were put aboard the Honour, bound for Virginia and Maryland in May 1720. Sensational news reached England by early September that sixteen prisoners had overpowered the crew after the ship sprung a leak and forced a landing in Vigo in Spain where several made their escape, five being quickly recaptured. The St James’ Evening Post of 3 September 1720 reported:

There is advice to say that the felons on one of the vessels commanded by Captain Langley mutinied on the coast of Galicia as they were transporting to the Plantations, killed the Captain, wounded some of his men and carried the ship into Vigo.

William Bond was one of those few recaptured and returned to England for trial at the Old Bailey on 13 January 1721. He was charged and found guilty of returning from transportation without lawful and sentenced to death. He was hanged at Tyburn on 8 February 1721.

'The Manner of Execution at Tyburn', 17th century.

We gain a sense of the man and his story through the Ordinary’s account of 29 January 1721. The Ordinary was the Chaplain of Newgate Prison, who heard prisoners’ last words, and published them for an eager public as a lucrative perquisite. William was keen to point out that the escapees had not actually killed the Captain, who sailed on and died safely in his bed in Virginia. He said he was the son of a barber and periwig maker of Spitalfields, and was apprenticed to his father but failed to make a success of the business. Unable to support his wife and children, which gave him “a great many melancholly hours”, he turned to crime. He uses heart-rending language to describe his anguish at being unable to provide the necessaries of life to his needy family. The Ordinary was impressed with his demeanour as he prepared for death, but worried that William expected a reprieve which never came.


Local churches were the focal point of sixteenth-century City life. Weekly worship and all the milestones of parishioners’ lives took place here: christenings, marriages and funerals. Many churches were lost in the Great Fire.

Read the stories of four that either survived or succumbed to the flames, and how they reemerged from the ruins.

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