A British museum recently acquired a 1750 pamphlet detailing the deathbed confession of Thomas Mun, executed for various crimes in that year. Mun speaks candidly about various exploits including an account of a failed gay seduction.
Executed for robbing a mail coach, Mun apparently handed the manuscript to his jailer on the morning of his death.
Known by various pseudonyms including the Gentleman Brickmaker, Mun did in fact work as a brickmaker. But brickmakers only worked in summer and needed to find other employment during winter. A workmate found a job protecting rabbit warrens from poachers. However, Tom didn’t like either the cold or the potential danger. So, he learned Morris-dancing, moved to Sussex and became a dancing master.
It seems that teaching Morris-dancing failed to attract an income commensurate with Tim’s needs, so he turned to a life of crime. Eventually, the authorities caught up with the ‘notorious smuggler’ and a judge sentenced him to hang.
Failed gay seduction
Knowing he would soon die, Mun shamelessly recounted his life of crime. But he also included his various ‘pranks’.
The Gentleman Bricklayer took a room one night at a Southhampton inn. The son of the innkeeper worked as a barber in a room adjoining the inn. That night, the innkeeper’s son came into Tom’s room on the pretext that he expected a friend to call for him. Tom’s room being near the street, he could watch from the window for his friend.
“I not being very sleepy, we had a great deal of chat and he came and set on the bed.
“No friend came.
“‘I think,’ said he, ‘I’ll lie down beside you’.”
Tom went to put on his shirt. He’d turned in naked.
“But he saith, ‘No, no. Don’t put your shirt on. I love to lie with a naked man, and I’ll pull mine off.’
‘If you do, you will lie alone,’ I said. However, he came to bed.
“He had not long been in bed but began to act a Part so Contradictory to Nature that I started up in the bed, wanted words to express my Confusion, Surprise and Passion at his Propositions.”
Tom pretended to have a knife to scare the boy from the room. The next morning the lad made many excuses for his actions but Tom by then regarded it as not such a big deal.
“It was what I never met with before, nor since, but had Philosophy enough in me, to think it a pity to expose a young Man, tho’ he pointed at a very heinous Sin; and certainly we that commit Crimes beyond what is common, ought to be pitied, for no Man is certain if he comes under the same Temptation, that he shall be able to withstand it.”
It seems that despite never before experiencing such temptation, he found himself aroused by the failed gay seduction. He, therefore, decided not to expose the young man to possible prosecution.
Horsham Museum described Thomas Mun’s reaction in his deathbed confession as “a remarkably modern approach…
“He had a more enlightened approach to sexual identity. As Munn all but came out and said, he was tempted to take up the young man’s bedtime offer.”
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