John Stafford, Ambrose Holland, Elkana Smewin, Violent Theft > highway robbery, 7th December 1692.

Reference Number: t16921207-24
Offence: Violent Theft > highway robbery
Verdict: Not Guilty; Guilty
Punishment: Death

John Stafford , Ambrose Holland , and Elkana Smewin , were all three indicted for a Robbery upon the High-way, committed upon the Body of John Smith and others, in the Parish, of South-Mims, in the County of Middlesex, on the 10th of November last. They met him upon the Road in Mims Wash , and took from him 19 l. in Money, and 100 Yards of Bone-Lace value 31 l. which Smith swore he was robbed of, but could not swear to the Prisoners; only he said four Men robbed him; but another Evidence swore that he found the Lace in a Box in Stafford's Lodgings at the Black Horse in Queen-street, which Smith owned to be his, swearing positively to the Marks which was set on with his own hand: It was farther deposed that Stafford fled when he was first searcht after, and endeavoured to escape; but was at last taken in a Garret in Queen-street, and that one George Kemble , and one Wilder were concerned with him, who are not yet taken; and when Stafford and Wilder went out of Town, they were poor, but when they returned again they got all new Cloaths presently, and were full of Money. Another Evidence swore, that Holland was in the Robbery, and he knew him, for that his Teeth were out before, and had Pock holes in his Face; and when he came to see him in Newgate, he knew him very well again. Another Witness swore, that seven Men came to the Sign of the White Hart in South Mims, and called for a Flagon of Beer, and the Carriers and Mr. Smith coming by, they went no further from London, but returned back with the Carriers; and about half a Mile out of the Town they commited the Robbery, and kill'd some of the Horses, and took 700 s. from a Carrier out of 1500 l. and Smewin was one, and Witney the Captain of them all was in the company, who kill'd all the Horses to the number of 20 but is not as yet taken; and that they had two Led Horses: The Evidence was very clear against Holland and Smewin; they all called some Witnesses, Holland called a Chyrurgeon, who said, that he was wont to go to Administer Physick to him, and to dress a Swelling he had in his Breast, which he did from the second of November to the 17th; but he might be mistaken as to the time. Stafford's Witnesses spoke very favourably of him, saying, that he had a Horse kept in Queen-street, and that he had a Brother in Worstershire where he was wont to reside more than in London, and behaved himself in a very civil manner there, and that another man Lodged in the same Room with him, that had a Box as well as he, so the Lace might be there, Smewin had little to say, the Evidence being so positive against him, that he was one of the Seven, and rid upon a bright Bay Horse, less than the rest. Then the Court Summ'd up the Evidence exactly to the Jury, directing them to enquire fetiously into the Matter, and to bring in a Verdict according as in their consciences they found them deserving and not to forget how pernicious such Offenders were not only to the Right and Property of any particular Person, so robb'd by them, but to the Kingdom in general. The Trial was very long, and the Jury took, considerable time before they agreed, and at last, not being fully satisfied that it was found in Mr. Stafford's Box they acquitted him; but Holland and Smewin were found guilty of the Robbery; upon which Holland replied, before he went from the Bar, that when he was dead the Robbery would be discover'd more fully, and who were concern'd in it; endeavouring to insinuate into the Credit of the Court, so far as to make them have a good Opinion of him; that although he had been an ill Man formerly yet he was innocent of this robbery.

[Death. See summary.]


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