With the death of his father, Gilbert inherited not only £500 in cash, but a thriving shop with a fantastic reputation. Indeed in his first year at the helm he reports he turned £700 pounds profit from his trading. If he’d continued to work in the trade who know how his life may have turned out.
- Father: Haldanby Langley (1665-1728)
- Mother: Mary Pegg
- Born: 1710
- Lived/employment: Silversmith, apprentice, business owner
- Married: unknown but did marry
- Children: Gilbert, plus other son
- Died: 1741, abroad “Vernon”
While the business was successful, and £500 was at the time a fortune. Gilbert was already vastly in debt, by reading his book one can see he was already living a life of excess and debauchery and using stolen funds (from the shop) to pay for it.Even at the age of 14 -15 he was stealing money and goods from the store to pay from female company and drink. He was the father of a child by the chambermaid at 15 and was a regular at the local taverns and board houses.
A lot is known about Gilbert’s life, but given the account is from himself one can question the reliability of the narration. That being true his account of his own life and failures cast him in a very poor light and he doesn’t seem to alter the facts to paint himself in a better light. His tale is one that high-light the life of many at the time.
Gilbert was a victim of his own flawed nature and access to wealth with no guidance, his mother died when he was a 15-16 and his father when he was 18. One can easily imagine a life for him where he was as he appeared to London society, son of a well respected Goldsmith.
During this time, he wrote his own story, while in Maidstone jail for the crime of highway robbery. He later died on the ship the “Vernon” under a sentence of eight years transport. His death is unrecorded and one imagines the poor man was buried in a unmarked grave for criminals. His death recorded in the Old Bailey records of prisioner last words.
Unbelievable, good evidence on the life and crimes of Gilbert can be found in the records of the Old Bailey court. In the 18th century, not only where death confessions published they also held adverts for other. Here we can read an Advert from 1721 for Gilberts book and also the tale of his demise.
The Three following BOOKS are Sold by JOHN APPLEBEE, Printer , in Bolt-Court, Fleet-street.
THE Life and Adventures of GILBERT LANGLEY, formerly of Searle street near Lincoln’s Inn-Fields.
His Family, Education, and Accidents in his tender Years. His being sent into Flanders, to the Convent of English Benedictines at Doway, with a curious Detail of their Method in bringing up Youth. His Return to England, and his first Slips in Point of Honesty and Virtue. His Amours with all Sorts of loose Women, and great Variety of Accidents which happened in Consequence of them. His meeting with a Cheat, who had Address enough to bite him twice. His Marriage, and fraudulent Arts to support a broken Fortune. His Contrivance to amass a vast Quantity of Jewels, Watches, rich Toys, &c. to the Amount of 20,000 l. His Flight to Holland, and strange Adventures there, till detected by his Creditors, and best Part of his Effects taken from him. His Return to England; Voyage to the West Indies, Rogueries there, and miserable Condition when he came back. Imprisoned in the Compter; reduc’d to Want; hangs himself at a Bailiff’s House: escapes from thence, and a new Trip to Sea. His Travels through Spain; Adventures in the Canaries; Arrival in Italy, and Return to London. His last Exploit, which brought him within Sight of a Halter.
Written by Himself, in Maidstone Goal, when under Condemnation for a Robbery committed on the Highway.
[Price One Shilling.]
THE ORDINARY of NEWGATE, His ACCOUNT of the Behaviour, Confession, and Dying Words, OF THE MALEFACTORS, Who were Executed at TYBURN, On WEDNESDAY the 13th of January, 1741-2.
For this Fact I was apprehended and try’d at Maidstone Assizes, where I received Sentence of Death, and was ordered for Execution, but just as I got into the Cart, I receiv’d a Pardon. There were two other Persons that received Reprieves with me, Gilbert Langley and Mr. Hill, who both died in their Passage to Virginia.
Stamford Mercury – Thursday 06 September 1739
On Monday laft Gilbert Langley and William Hills*, two Foot-pads, attacked one Mr. Springate of Feversham, between Canterbury and Baughcon-Hill, and took from him lome Half-pence, (which was all he had about him) but they return’d them to him again, as not worth while; however a Huc-and-Cry was rais’d and one ot them taken immediately, and the cfcher (bon after, as he was going through Baughton, and being carried before the litJng Jultices at Canterbury, they were committed to Gaol. There were found upon them fome Piftols of an extraordinary Make, being not above Inches long in Barrel, and yet wide enough receive Ball as large that of a Fowling Picce.