5 August 1790 – John Dyer

Even the most moneyed of parents can’t keep their children from committing crimes.

A 19-year-old, schooled at the prestigious Westminster School (no, not the one who went on to be a famous Welsh poet), was sentenced to death after he was found guilty of forgery.

Dyer presented a candle maker in New Bond Street with a promise to pay £36, allegedly on behalf of the famous Scottish diplomat and all-rounder Sir William Hamilton. But there were no flies on the wily wax worker and Dyer was promptly caught and marched off to Newgate to await his trial.

Dyer death

When the time came he pleaded ignorance, stating simply that his boss, Mr Kelsy, had instructed him to carry out the act and that he had trustingly done so. But, because he was unable to provide proof that he was not complicit, Dyer was sentenced to die, according to a report in the ‘Newgate Calendar’.

Despite gaining the sympathy of spectators, rich parents and an outwardly respectable upbringing, there was no leniency for the first-time offender.

The teenager died in disgrace after he was strung up on this day in 1790.

Also on this day

5 August 2004 – James Hubbard
5 August 1908 – Matthew Dodds

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