John Trantum or Trantrum, 1701-1721

Short and Fatal Criminal Career

John Trantum was one of two brothers executed for their crimes.

Early Life

John Trantum was christened on 9 March 1701 in the parish of St Ann Blackfriars, London, the fourth child of Thomas and Abigail Trantum.1

As he later told the Ordinary of Newgate, he was "not of any Business", but had gone to the East-Indies and China as a servant to someone on board a ship, and had stayed there for four months while the ship was loaded with cargo. On his return to England he was paid over £80 but he quickly spent it all and "took to vicious Courses". He related that his mother "some Times told him, she fear'd he lived Dishonestly, and beg'd him not think of subsisting on the Ruins and Spoils of innocent People, for it would terminate in Misery and Destruction". She would prove to be right.

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At the Old Bailey

John is first mentioned in the Old Bailey Proceedings at the age of 20 in the trial of John White for a burglary committed in April 1720. William Field, White's accomplice who had turned king's evidence, explained to the court that Richard (Dick) Trantum and John Trantum had also been involved in the crime. The four of them had sold the stolen property to a Mrs Glanister, whose husband and son were to be convicted of receiving stolen goods in 1722.

In the October 1721 Sessions, John Trantum was the defendant in two separate trials. Firstly he pleaded guilty to three counts of burglary and one of theft. In a separate trial he and Philip Storey, together with Christopher Leonard who was still at large, were accused of a further six counts of housebreaking. Trantum pleaded guilty to all six and was sentenced to death. It was unusual for defendants to plead guilty at this time, since conviction meant a virtually certain death sentence, but perhaps he felt that the evidence against him was overwhelming.

He was executed on 23 October 1721.

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External Sources

  • London Metropolitan Archives, Parish Register of St Ann Blackfriars.
  • Family Search.


1 Family Search, consulted 20 April 2010; London Metropolitan Archives, Parish Register of St Ann Blackfriars, MS 4508/2. Thomas Trantum and Abigail Gainsford were marrried at All Hallows, London Wall on 3 October 1689. Between 1694 and 1703 they had five children, two of whom would be executed as criminals: Thomas, Elizabeth, Richard (executed on 25 May 1723), John (executed on 23 October 1721), and Stephen.

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About this Biography

Created by

Mary Clayton 

Further contributions by