Liverpool man executed in New York 1853

Liverpool Mercury March 1st 1853

Execution of a Liverpool man at New York

On Friday the 11th of last month a Liverpool man Joseph CLARK was executed at New York for the murder of a policeman in that city on the 4th of April last.

Quote from the New York Herald ;- during his last night CLARK retired at about 1 o’ clock and slept very soundly till 7am. About 8am he partook of breakfast, consisting of oyster soup and coffee, of which he ate heartily. Rev Mr WILLETT was in his cell during the night and between 9 and 10 high mass was performed in the chapel of the prison, at which he received holy communion and prayed long and fervently. He then returned to the main prison and shortly afterwards proceeded to the yard of the prison where a daguerreo-typist was present and took his likeness in the presence of the Sheriff Mr EDMONDS and various other officials.

He then retired to his cell accompanied by the priests and made a request that the reporters of the public press should take down his statement in the presence of SULLIVAN and his spiritual advisors as he did not wish to make any long statement under the gallows, anticipating that his remarks may be miss-interpreted. The following is his statement in the cell :-

“I wish to say that I have been attended by my own clergy men of my own church. My feelings are good, and I am about as happy a man as ever left this earth. I can surely say that if my sentence was to be commuted this moment I would not alter my religion, because I am sure to be saved and enter into heaven. There is prejudice, I have reason to believe, against me in some of the newspapers, but, I won’t say anything about that - nevertheless it is my belief. I am altogether under the kind guidance of my father confessor, and I consider this the happiest day of my life. I am going to leave this world, and I leave it without hearing animosity against any person. I mean to say that if my case had been stated in its true light by the witnesses GALLOWAY and O’NEIL, the judge and jury would have had quite a different impression of my case. It was never stated truly at the first, as not one of the witnesses stated how I came in the possession of the cartrung. They knew it, but kept that part of the evidence back, for what reason I do not know, except to prejudice my case. And if the policeman SULLIVAN, who was engaged in the quarrel, had stated all he knew correctly, my case would have been different, but, instead of doing so, I could see he was somewhat prejudiced against me, but, I forgive him. He is the one I believe who testified that after GILLESPIE was prostrated, I returned and struck him when on the ground. I say it now in the presence of you all here, and before God, that he [SULLIVAN] swore wrongfully to the fact of my returning to where GILLESPIE was lying and striking him again. It was all done in the time you could count, one, two or three, but I forgive him and hope God will, that is all I have to say. I wish further to say that I owe my best thanks to Mr EDMONDS, Mr CROSBY, and in fact all parties connected with the prison, the Sisters of Charity, and all others who have extended their charity towards me. I wish further to say that my parents may know, through the publication of this statement, that I die happy, through the consolation of my father’s confessors, with all the rites of the holy religion. I don’t think it best to say much under the gallows, and I hope you gentlemen of the newspapers will do me justice in having my statement published as I made it, so that my poor, father and mother in Liverpool will know that I die happy.”

Under the gallows CLARK made a similar statement. An old shipmate then apparently came forward, seized CLARK around the neck and embraced and kissed him in a most affectionate manner. At this juncture one of the deputy sheriffs in a hurried manner pushed his way up to Sheriff ORSER and presented him with a letter from Albany. An intense excitement was now manifested amongst the spectators, believing it to be a reprieve from the governor, but, unfortunately it turned out to be a private communication for the sheriff. Several others now came forward and shook hands with CLARK bidding him farewell. The attendant priest came up and embraced the unfortunate man affectionately. Sheriff ORSER took his leave in the kindest manner.

The deputy then approached and adjusted the noose, and as the black cap was drawn down, CLARK continued to repeat, “Oh Jesus, Mary and Joseph!” “Oh Jesus, Mary and Joseph!”

The sheriff drew his sword, the axe descended upon the rope, and the unfortunate criminal was elevated to about 10ft. With the exception of a slight quivering, he appeared to suffer but little. The two reverend gentlemen who attended him knelt and prayed for some minutes after the culprit was suspended. The rope was severed at 5mins to 12, 10mins having been occupied under the gallows. After the hanging, Drs FLEET, ROCKWELL, QUACKENBOSS and WRIGHT pronounced him dead, after which the noose was taken from the neck and the body place in a coffin on which was inscribed, :-

“Joseph CLARK, died Feb 11th 1853, aged 29yrs and 11mths.”

Sheriff ORSER conveyed the corpse over for burial to the, Sisters of Mercy, who caused it to be moved from the prison for interment.

Copyright 2002 / To date