Offences: Violent Theft > highway robbery; Violent Theft > highway robbery; Theft > extortion
Verdicts: Guilty; Not Guilty
John Gillingham , was indicted for Assaulting on the Highway Robert Shirly Esq; and taking from him a Gold Watch and Chain, value 20 l. February 21 . He was a 2d Time indicted for Assaulting John de Comines on the Highway, and taking from him a Watch, a Snuff box, and 5 l. 5 s. in Money , on the 8th of April 1725 . He was a 3d Time indicted, for that he (with John Mason since dead in Newgate,) did send to Simon Smith Esq; a Felonious Letter, not signed with his own Name, demanding 20 Guineas . Mr. Shirly thus depos'd. Between 12 and 1 on Friday Night, as I was going in a Chair along St. James's Street , I was Attack'd by two Men, one of them Jostled my Fore Chairman. and clap'd a Pistol to his Shoulder, bade him Stand, came to the Chair Door, demanded my Watch and Money, and swore if I stirr'd I was a dead Man. I deliver'd them to him while his Companion stood over the other Chairman; and as soon as they were gone, my Fore Chairman told me that he had known the Prisoner and his Family, that his Parents kept a Fruiterers Stall just by White's Chocolate House. Hall the Chairman depos'd thus. I have known the Prisoner these 13 or 14 Years. He clapp'd a Pistol to me, and bade me Stand. I set down the Chair. There was another Rogue with him. My Partner was going to draw the Poles to take them a knock or two; but the Prisoner's Companion perceiv'd it, and stood over him with a Pistol. The Prisoner in his Defence said, that when he was carried before the Justice, the Chairman said that he could not Swear that the Prisoner was the Man, though he Swore it the next Morning. The Chairman acknowledged this to be true, but said that he refus'd to Swear, only because he was a poor Man, and was afraid that he should lose his Time, and be at some Charges in the Prosecution. On the 2d Indictment it appear'd, that about Midnight the Prisoner and 3 or 4 more pickt a Quarrel with the Prosecutor in the Hay Market, upon which they fell to Fighting, and in the Fray Prosecutor lost his Money. On the 3d Indictment Richard Meeks thus depos'd On Saturday Night my Master (Mr. Reith a Watch-maker,) sent me with his Wig to the Barber's. As I was going along Pall-mall the Prisoner hipp'd after me. I came to him, and another Man was with him. The Prisoner took a Letter out of his Pocket, and desir'd me to carry it for him to Mr. Smith. I went to enquire for the Gentleman at 2 or 3 Chocolate Houses, but not meeting with him, the Prisoner at last sent me to the Gentlemans own House in George Street. - I gave the Letter, to the Maid, and she to Mr. Smith. He call'd me in, read the Letter and asked me if I knew what I had done. I told him I knew of no harm. Why, says he, here's a Fellow threatens to Shoot me the first time he meets me, if I don't send him 20 Guineas by the Bearer. The Letter was produced in Court by Mr. Smith, who Swore that he receiv'd it of the Maid. She Swore that she had it from the Boy, and the Boy Swore that it was the same that he receiv'd from the Prisoner. It was read in Court, and the Contents follow.
To Mr Smith, in Great George Street over-against the Church near Hanover Square.
I Desire you to send me 20 Guineas by the Bearer without letting him know what it is, for he is Innocent of the Contents. If you offer to speak of this to any body. G - d - my Blood and Soul, if you are not a dead Man before Monday Morning: and if you don't send the Money, the Devil dash my Brains out, if I don't Shoot you the first Time you stir out of Doors. Or if I should be taken, there's others that will do your Business for you, by the first Opportunity. Therefore pray fail not, for G - strike me to instant D -- tion, if I am not as good as my Word.
The jury found him Guilty of the 1st and 3d Indictment , but acquitted him of the 2d . Death .