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A MOVING PRAYER REQUEST (FROM 100 YEARS AGO)

PRAYERS REQUESTED FOR THE REPOSE OF THE SOUL OF WILLIAM BEAL, 19 YEARS OLD

A LETTER FROM LISTER DRUMMOND, OF ESSEX COURT, TEMPLE, LONDON

On 10 December [1912] a boy of 19, named William Beal, was executed at Chelmsford for the murder of his sweetheart at West Ham. The case was one which, on the evidence, admitted of considerable doubt. The boy was strongly recommended to mercy by the jury who tried him, but in spite of strenuous efforts on the part of those interested in his fate, the Home Secretary declined to advise a reprieve.

In asking the prayers of your readers for the repose of the soul of this poor boy, it may interest them to know the circumstances of his conversion, which were as consoling and remarkable as the letter I received from him on the morning of his execution… On entering Brixton Prison after his committal for trial, Beal gave his religion as Catholic.
On visiting him in pursuance of his duties as Catholic chaplain to the prison, Father Turner discovered that Beal was not in fact a Catholic, but had entered himself as one because he had frequently attended a Catholic church. Finding that the boy earnestly desired to be received into the Church, Father Turner gave him what instruction was possible in the short time, and conditionally baptised him on All Saints’ Day. His First Communion was made the following Sunday, and his last on the morning of his execution. His letter to me shows what his conversion did for him, and explains the respect and, I may say, the regard he won from the prison officials and all with whom he came in contact during the last few weeks of his short life.
– Originally published in ‘The Tablet’, 21 December 1912; re-published 22/29 December 2012; contact for subscriptions etc.: ‘The Tablet’, 1 King Street Cloisters, Clifton Walk, London W6 0GY, email: thetablet@thetablet.co.uk

 
 

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