Summary and Analysis Chapter 23



Fifteen weeks later Moll was put on board a ship in the Thames with a group of thirteen hardened criminals. Between the time that the order for transportation was given and the time that Moll was put on board the ship, she learned that Jemmy, her Lancashire husband, and one of his companions had been able to buy off some of the witnesses against them, but that they were still being held to see if any other witnesses would appear against them. By pretending to be a witness against Jemmy, Moll contrived to see him alone. After the keeper left, they exchanged confidences about their years apart: Moll told him as much as "was convenient" about her arrest and imprisonment; Jemmy explained that in all his twenty-five years of highway robbery he'd never before been caught, although he'd often been wounded. Moll began trying to persuade Jemmy to attempt to get transportation to the colonies, but he had given up all hope and wished to die. He continued for some time to resist Moll's arguments, but she finally "answered all his own passionate objections so effectually" that he agreed to try to arrange for transportation. A "great friend" interceded on Jemmy's behalf and he was granted permission to "transport himself." Moll was upset by this piece of news, for she feared that she and Jemmy would not be transported on the same ship.

As the date for Moll's transportation drew near, her governess tried to obtain a pardon for her, but did not have enough money to bring this off. The minister also tried but was told that Moll's life had been saved because of his entreaties and he should not ask for more.

When Moll was "delivered" to the ship of "a merchant that traded to Virginia," she was terrified that the boat was going to leave immediately. Soon reassured on this matter, she wrote a letter to her governess and enclosed one for a "fellow-prisoner," whom she did not let her governess know was her husband. Moll told the governess where the ship was and urged the woman to send along any of Moll's things she could get together.

The governess gave the letter to Jemmy and got an answer to it. The next day she came down to the ship and brought Moll the letter along with a chest containing some money and many other goods.

Jemmy's letter said he did not see how he could be discharged in time to go to Virginia in the same ship with Moll. This news distressed Moll so much that she told her governess some details of the problem. She also said Jemmy had some money and that they planned to be married on board ship.

This news pleased the governess to the extent that she finally managed to have Jemmy brought on board the ship. Now both Jemmy and Moll were on their way to Virginia, "destined to be sold for slaves, [Moll] for five years, and he under bonds and security not to return to England any more, as long as he lived."


Although Moll was already on the ship at the beginning of this chapter, the scene flashes back to the time of the renewal of the friendship between Moll and Jemmy in prison. When they met, Jemmy gave Moll a full account of the circumstances of their first meeting, his resolve to stop stealing, his disappointment with her meager fortune (but not with her), and his criminal activities up to the time of his arrest.