stranger in this section of the country. Despite his protests he was taken before Squire Flemming, who committed him to await the action of the authorities of Delaware County. It chanced that Mr. Irwin, the then superintendent of the Chester County jail, and who had formerly been sheriff, had frequently seen, and recognized the prisoner as Thomas Cropper. At a subsequent hearing the accused acknowledged that he was Cropper, but declared that he had shot Hollis purely in self-defense. His identity having been established, Thursday, March 29, 1841, Hon. John Larkin, then sheriff of Delaware County, brought Cropper to the jail at Chester, as well as Elizabeth Hollis, the latter being detained as a witness.
On Friday, May 28, 1841, the case was called for trial, Judge Thomas S. Bell presiding, the commonwealth being represented by Deputy Attorney-General P. Frazer Smith, and the prisoner by Hon. Edward Darlington and Townsend Haines, Esq. The evidence was not voluminous; the jury retired at seven o'clock in the evening, and at half-past ten returned a verdict of guilty of murder in the first degree. On Monday, June 1st, the sentence of the law was pronounced, the court-room being crowded, even the windows blocked up with men who could not gain admission to the room.
After his sentence the prisoner seemed almost unconscious of his unhappy situation, but, with apparent indifference to the manner of his death, made full preparations for his funeral, ordering his coffn and winding-sheet, and requested that as soon as they were made they should be deposited in his cell until required for use. His request was complied with, but when they were brought to the jail he shuddered at the sight, and desired that they might be taken away. As the day fixed for his execution drew near, he made several attempts to escape, and in doing so filed some of the bars in the chimney in his cell apart. His hair was crisp and abundant, and he had concealed a watch-spring file therein so adroitly that for a long time the authorities could not discover the tool with which he accomplished his work. The jail at Chester, old and decayed, was so insecure that to insure his detention it became absolutely necessary to place him in heavy irons, which were chained to the floor.
The Governor had ordered the sentence to be executed on Friday, Aug. 6, 1841, and as Cropper was much concerned as to the final disposition of his body after death, being extremely fearful that it would be given to the physicians for dissection, he requested that he should be hung not later than eleven o'clock, in order to allow time to carry the remains to the African burialground, at Kennett Square.
About ten o'clock on the day designated his manacles were removed and Cropper attired in a white robe; the procession was formed, and moved to the place of execution in the jail-yard. The condemned man ascended the scaffold with a firm step, and listened attentively while the death warrant was read. He was attended by two colored ministers, who prayed and sang with him. At the conclusion of the religious exercises, Cropper desired a few minutes longer for prayer, followed by a short speech to those present. His feet were then bound with heavy cords, and when the trap was sprang the cords binding his feet became loosened, and a moment after his arms also broke from their fastenings, and he threw up his hands and grasped at the rope above his bead. Jeremiah Stevenson, one of Sheriff Larkin's deputies on that occasion, pinioned Cropper's arms again, - a merciful act, for the half-hanged man clutched wildly with his hands at the rope by which he was suspended, and his suffering was rendered more intense because of that effort.
After the body had hung half an hour it was cut down, the physicians having pronounced life extinct, and the corpse was placed in the coffin he had ordered. Being a Mason, he requested that the insignia of the order should be placed thereon, which was done. The executed man ordered that the expenses of his funeral should be paid out of the means he had accumulated, and the remainder of his estate he bequeathed to Elizabeth Hollis.
Hotels in Birmingham. - Respecting the houses of entertainment in Birmingham, under license from the courts of Chester County, it is very difficult to designate those which at the present would be in their locations confined to that part of the township now included within the county of Delaware.
The first record of license there is to John Wyth, Birmingham (generally), was allowed June 20, 1715, and is confined to a brief note of the fact that it was so granted.
The first petition of record was presented to the court Aug. 28, 1722, by John Bentley, wherein he represents that "Having Taken a house In the Township of Birmingham And Intending, with your Honours permission to sett up an Ordinary for the Vending of Beer and Syder for the Succor and Support of Travailers, his house being By the Great Road Leading to Nottingham and Maryland, And he being likewise very much Induced thereunto by severall of the neighbors Importunity," etc. He was recommended to the favorable consideration of the justices by William Brinton, Joseph Brinton, Samuel Painter, Joseph Gilpin, John Chalfant, James Houstowne, Providence Scot, Pattrick Scott, John Bickingham, and Daniel Moore. What was done with his petition that year does not appear, but in 1723 he had license allowed him, as also in the year following. I conclude that it was approved, especially since in his application, dated Aug. 31, 1725, he declares that he has " kept a publick House in the township of Birmingham for some years past." He seems to have lost his privilege, however, for Nov. 30, 1731, he states in his petition "that for some years past he had license to keep a house of entertainment in Birmingham, but through some misrepresentations had been obstructed in a con-