William Duce, James Butler, Violent Theft > highway robbery, Violent Theft > highway robbery, 10th July 1723.

Reference Number: t17230710-38
Offences: Violent Theft > highway robbery; Violent Theft > highway robbery
Verdicts: Guilty > pleaded guilty; Guilty > pleaded guilty; Guilty
Punishments: Death

William Duce and James Butler , of St. Martins in the Fields , were indicted for assaulting John Holms on the High-way, and taking from him a Handkerchief, a Steel Seal, a Hat value 10 s. and 21 s. in Money , the 27th of April last. To this Indictment James Butler Pleaded Guilty : But William Duce refus'd to plead to the Indictment, but requir'd first to be examin'd privately: He would have been made an Evidence for making Discoveries, but the Court not admitting him, he was at last oblig'd to plead, and pleaded not Guilty. The Prosecutor depos'd, as he was going over the 5th Field between London and Chelsea , about 10 a Clock at Night, he met four Men; the first came up to him, behaving himself as if he had been in Liquor, and passed him, the second did the like; and the third, which was John Dier, came up and put a Pistol to his Breast, and the others came back and rifled him, and took his Hat, but he could swear to neither of the Prisoners; that having taken from him the things mention'd in the Indictment, they went away all but John Dier , who stood over him a little while with his Pistol, till the others were gone some Distance; and while he stood over him with his Pistol, excused the Fact, telling him, they did it from Necessity. John Dier depos'd, That on the 27th of April, himself, James Butler, William Duce, and Joseph Rice (who was since shot by the Patrole Guard, in attempting to rob Colonel Chudleigh's Lady in her Coach in the King's Road) met the Prosecutor in Chelsea-fields, that Butler and Duce went after him and stop'd him, and that then he came up to the Prosecutor, and clapt a Pistol to his Breast; that Butler rifled his Pockets, and Duce took his Hat, but Rice was hardly come up to them at that time; that they being gone off, he search'd his Fob, and took out the Guinea, and two Papers, which he produc'd in Court, and were own'd by the Prosecutor. That Duce and Butler sold the Hat in Holbourn for 4 s. 6 d. and that Butler had the Seal a Week after: That Duce had half of the Guinea that he took from the Prosecutor, but Butler had none of it. Mr. Jones depos'd, that he having heard of the Attempt made upon Colonel Chudleigh's Lady, and the Persons describ'd, he having before apprehended some of them, he thought he knew them; so going to the House of one Auger, who was Sister to William Duce, he there found William Duce and John Dier, and that one of them had a Pistol, which he thinks was Dier. That thereupon he apprehended them, and carried them before Justice Blackabee.

Jonathan Wild depos'd, that he being with them at Justice Blackabee's, found one of the Prisoners and John Dier to be Acquaintance, in that they had both Pumps on their Feet of the Same Make. Whereupon he ask'd them, if they did not make them at such a House; that he had known Williams Duce of a Boy, and that Duce's Mother came to him, and desir'd her Son might be made an Evidence, saying, he could make the greatest Discovery. That when he was with Duce in Newgate, he desir'd to be made an Evidence, and was going to confess to him Facts that had been committed, but John Dier having been before made an Evidence, he would not let him discover any thing to him, least he should be obliged to be an Evidence against him in Court. William Duce deny'd the Fact, and that ever he had committed any Robbery in his Life, or ever had any Concerns with the Evidence John Dier, or Acquaintance, any more than that he lodg'd at his Sister's House.

William Duce and James Butler, of the Parish of St. Pancrass , were indicted for assaulting John Monk on the High Way, and taking from him 12 s. in Mony , the 3d of May last. To this Indictment: James Butler pleaded guilty . John Monk depos'd, That he being a Coachman , was driving his Coach, having been at Hampstead, about half an Hour past Nine a Clock in the Evening; at a little Bridge between Tottenham-Court and the Turn-Pike, he saw three Men coming towards him. The first ask'd him if he was hir'd, and if he was going to London. He having answer'd them, one of them look'd into the Coach, and finding no Body there, another of them took hold of his Horses Bridle, and bid him stand and deliver his Money. To which he replied, that was enough to hang a Man; that the Person that held the Horse Bridle was John Dier the Evidence; that then he gave them half a Crown, but that not satisfying them, 2 others jump'd up to him into the Coach Box, and took his Money out of his Pocket, which was 9 s. and 6 d. more; upon which he told them, it was very hard to take away his Money from him that was a poor Man, who had been working for it all Day. That while they were taking away his Money, they order'd him not to look at them, so that he could only swear positively to John Dier. That they told him it should be Money in his Way, and took the Number of his Coach, which was 324. That having done, they bid him drive on, and they made toward Hampstead Road.

This was all confirm'd by the Evidence of John Dier, who added, that the half Crown was receiv'd of the Coachman by William Duce, and that Duce's Sister pawn'd a Bed to raise the Money that bought Pistols for them, to go a robbing with.

The Prisoner Duce in his Defence, deny'd the Fact, was very noisy, and rav'd against Jonathan Wild , and John Dier, Saying, that he had been an Evidence before; and that no Man was by the Law of England to be admitted to be an Evidence twice. To prove the first Assertion, he had got a Sessions Paper in his Hand, to which Jonathan Wild reply'd, in that Case he was a voluntary

Evidence, and was not charg'd with any Crime; and as to the second Affection, the Court requir'd him to produce the Statute for it, telling him, they knew not any such Statute; he reflected on the Justice of the Court, urging that Mr. Holmes's Evidence, and John Taylor 's Evidence did not agree, as to the Person who first stopp'd him, but this did not avail him, the Court not finding any Inconsistency in their Evidence. He in his own Justification requir'd the Court to ask his Accomplice James Butler, whether he, this Prisoner, William Duce, was in either of the Roberies for which they were indicted; who reply'd, that tho' he own'd he himself was guilty of both the Facts, and threw himself upon the Mercy of the Court, yet William Duce was not concern'd in either; altho' he had in his Confession before the Justice (which Confession was read in Court) confess'd that Duce was an Actor in them. By which he show'd more Friendship for Duce, that Prudence for himself. Nor was this Denial of any Service to Duce. Whether Duce was drunk, or it was his natural Temper, or both together, I shall not determine, but in his violent raving the proceeded so far as to demand a Question to be ask'd of John Dier, and Mr. Holmes, which conduc'd not a little to prove his being a Party concern'd in the robbing Mr. Holmes. The Question was, who it was that kiss'd Mr. Holmess Hand? To which they both reply'd, that it was John Dier the Evidence, who at parting with Mr. Holmes after he had been robb'd, did either do it, or made an offer so to do. This being a private Circumstance of the Robbery, that had been omitted, and not mentioned by either Holmes or Dier in Court, it carried in it a very strong Presumption, that he that was privy to that, was also privy to the Robbery. The Jury found them both guilty of both Indictments . Death .


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