John Bennet alias Freeman , but more notoriously known by the Name of the GOLDEN FARMER, was tryed for the Murther of Charles Taylor , in the Parish of St. Brides , on the 26th of September , by fireing a Pistol laden with Bullet, and giving him a mortal Wound in the Breast of which he dyed the 28th. But before the Court proceeded to examine the Evidence relating to the Murther charged on him in this Indictment, one Mrs. Palmer was examined, who deposed, That the Prisoner, with others, to the number of nine came on the 16th of October 1689 to her House at Grays in Essex, and entring forcibly, pretended, with horrid Oaths and Excerations, That they had the King's Broad Seal to seize all the Mony, &c. having Vizard Marks on and Pistols in their Hands, and that they drove her Husband and Servants into the Celler, and there set a Guard over them, threathing Death to those that Stirred; and then forc'd this Deponent, with many Threats of Death, and often clapping Pistols to her Breast, to go with them from Room to Room to shew them where the Plate; Money, and Goods of value were; and perceiving a Soldier belonging to the Block-house coming by whilst they were rifling, they fetched him in, under pretence of drinking with some good Fellows, and put him into the Gutter; and so carryed off to the value of 5 or 600 l. in Money, Plate and Jewels.
Then it was proved, That he had robbed Mr. Thomas Bird near Ware, the County of Hartford, entering his House, with divers others, on the 26th of February last, between the Hours of 3 and 4 in the Afternoon, and binding or securing all but a Maidservant, whom they made go up and down, to shew them the ways of the House, they lifted to the value of 500 and odd Pounds, which they carried off.
One who had been his Confederate in several Robberies, accused him of robing the Lady Butler In Essex of 140 l. in Money and Plate; Sir John Read of 1000 l. in Mony and value; Sir Thomas Draper of 100 and odd Pounds; and that his chief Accomplices in these and other Robberies were one Marshal, Jenkins, a Barber, a Fellow called Old Mob, and others not yet taken: And it further appeared, that being discovered by him as a High-way man, &c. and my Lord Chief Justice's Warrant procured, search was made after him, but by reason of his often shifting his Lodging, it was concluded, that the Evidence's Wife and Sister should dog his Wife; which they did; and by that means discovered where he was, and in Salisbury court crying out upon him for a High-wayman, he knock'd one of them down and made off, but the other following with the same Cry, Taylor the party killed, being Soldier , endeavouring to apprehend him, received the Wound of which he dyed; and Benet escaped at that Time, but being discovered on Southwark side soon after by one Mr. Tucker, he seized him, but after some grapling he got loose again by one of his Companions coming to his Assistance; however, the Cry being made after him several pursued to apprehend him, one of which he shot, of which Wound he soon after dyed, he wounded another in the Thigh, and could not be taken till he was knock'd down by Brick-bats.
He made little Defence on his Trial, casting himself at length on the Court, and was found Guilty of Wilful Murther.