Thomas Edwards, James Tripland, Thomas Past, Sarah Wheatley, Violent Theft > highway robbery, Theft > receiving, 23rd February 1732.

Reference Number: t17320223-35
Offences: Violent Theft > highway robbery; Theft > receiving
Verdicts: Not Guilty; Guilty
Punishments: Death

41, 42, 43. Thomas Edwards , James Tripland , and Thomas Past , were indicted for assaulting Edward Prior , Clerk , on the Highway. putting him in Fear, and taking from him a Hat, Value 15 s. a Hatband, Value 1 s. 6 d. a silk Scarf. Value 6 s. and 4 s. in Money , Jan. 26 . And Sarah Wheatley , alias Whittle , was indicted for receiving a silk Scarf, being part of the said Goods, knowing it to have been stolen .

Edward Prior . At Midnight, on Wednesday the 26th of Jan. last, as I was going along St. John's-street, I saw 4 Fellows before me, I suspected

them to be Rogue, but was not very uneasy on that Account; for I thought they could hard- be so abandon'd, but that they would pay some Regard to the Cloth, and not presume to attack a Clergyman. Encouraged by this Reflection, I past them, and turned up Swan-Alley , when presently I heard 2 Men come tripping after me. I then began to think that I had entertained a more favourable Opinion of them than they deserved: I mended my Pace, and they theirs, till I came into the brought Part of the Alley; and then Thomas Edwards (that young Lad at the Bar) came forward, and held a Knife to me thus - and bad me stand, which I did. Thomas Past (that down looking Fellow ) came up next with something in his Hand, which then, in the Fright I was in, I took to be a Pistol; but I have since been informed, that it was nothing but a clasp'd Knife. James Tripland and Thomas Back came last, and demanded my Watch, and my Money, I gave them 4 s. and some Half-pence, which was all the Money I had about me; but as for the Watch, I told them I had got none, tho' at the same time I had it in my Hand; for when I heard them coming after me, I slipt it out of my Pocket. Then one of them snatch'd off my Hat, and another took away my Scarf: They swore at me, and made me run down an Alley, and then they went off.

On the Sunday following, some Persons came from Rag-Fair to visit a Man in Swan-Alley, near my Brother (Mr. Prior)'s Brewhouse; and they sent for a Pot of Beer, and so they fell into Discourse. And how goes Trade your Way? says one. Why, truly, but so so, says another; but Robbing goes forward however. Robbing? says a third. Ay, says the second, see what a pass the World is come to! we had a Clergyman robb'd here last Wednesday Night between 12 and 1. A Clergyman? says the fourth to the first, Why did not we see some Fellows in Rag-Fair with a Parson's Hat? And so we did, now I think of it, says his Neighbour. The Alehouse-Man who was one of the Company, acquainted my Brother with what had pass'd, and the Prisoners were afterwards taken in Rag-Fair.

Court. You say you was robb'd about Midnight, was it dark? Prior. It was Moon-light; but the Moon was a little clouded. Court. How long did the Persons that robb'd you stay with you? Prior. About 5 or 6 Minutes. Court. Did you ever see any of them before? Prior. No; not to my Knowledge. Court. You say you was under such Confussion that you took a clasp Knife to be a Pistol; how then can you recollect to perfectly that these are the very Men who robb'd you? Prior. I should not have been so positive, if my Opinion had not been supported by Thomas Beck , one of those concerned in the Fact. Court. Was you positive to the Prisoners when before the Justice? Prior. I was more positive to some than to others I fix'd upon Past and Edwards for two of them. Court. Could you be positive to Tripland without the help of Beck's Evidence? Prior. I should be very cautious of being positive as to him: He was a dirty, thick-set short Fellow; but there may be many such about Town.

Past. Did not you say before the Justice, that you was positive to none but Edwards?

Prior. I said indeed, that Edwards's Countenance struck me most; but at the same time I said I believ'd the others were the Men. And as to Edward's, there is one thing, in which I cannot but observe the Hand of Providence. When he was taken up, and was about to be carried before the Justice, he chang'd his Coat, in order, as I suppose, to disguise himself, but the Coat that he then put on, was the very Coat that he wore when he robb'd me; or one that was pretty much like it.

Thomas Beck . About 11 o'Clock, I and Edwards, and Tripland met with Past in Bishopsgate-street. My Lads, says he, what Lay do you go upon. They told me they could find no better Business than stealing Lead. That's but a foolish way of living; you had much better stop a Coach. I proposed to go into Widegate-Alley to break open a House, but at last we agreed upon Street-Robbery. We went to Shoreditch, and attempted to stop a Coach, but the Coachman whipped his Horses, and drove into Hoxton-square. Going a little farther, Past cry'd out, Boys, here's a Cock!

Court. What did he mean by a Cock?

Beck. A Man. We came up to this Man, but he cry'd out Fire! Fire! and so we let him pass, for fear he should alarm all the Neighbourhood. We went along Old-street, and so to St. John's-street, without doing any Business: But in St. John's-street, Paste called out again, Boys, says he, Here's a Smallcoal-man; let us stop him, for they wear the best of Hats.

Court. A Smallcoal-man, what did he mean by that?

Beck. A Parson: We always call a Parson a Smallcoal-man, because their Dresses are pretty much alike. So we look'd in the Parson's Face, and let him go on, but we follow'd at a little Distance. He turned down Swan-Alley, when Edwards

stept forward with a Knife in his Hand, and stopt him. Whereof another Man was coming by at the same Time, and Past said, Boys! bid him stand, which we did. I sell a swearing at the Parson for his Watch, but he said he had none. Then I swore and cursed bloodily for his Money, and he gave me four Shillings, and 3 Half pence. Then Past took the Parson's Hat, and Tripland his Scarf; and so we left the poor Parson, and went into Catherine-wheel Alley and stole a Hundred Weight of Lead off of one of the new Houses that are unfinish'd. We were afterwards all taken, and I gave Information against my Companions. I have known Tripland and Past but a little while; but I have been acquainted with Edwards many Years. He and I have stole 30 Hundred Weight of Lead together.

Benjamin Ward . On Thursday the 27th of January, as I was standing at my Shop-door in Rag-Fair, I saw the Prisoner and Beck playing the Rogue together, and pushing one another over the Kennel. I did not like their Looks and so I took notice of 'em. Beck had got on a great flopping Hat, without Loops. Says I to my Journeyman, does that great Hat look as if it belong'd to that Fellow? I think it looks more like a Parson's Hat.

John Higginson . I live opposite to Mr. Wood, and took Notice as well he, of their playing the Rogue together, and that such a shabby Fellow as Beck should wear such a great Hat.

Rich Hancock , Headborough. On Jan. 30 I went to see a Man that was sick and lame in Swan-Alley. We sent for a Pot of Beer to his Room. The Alehouse-man who brought it, talk'd about Trade, and said there was nothing but Robbing there-a-way, for some Rogues had robb'd a Parson. What, says I, do they rob the Cloth? And says Mr. Wood (who was with us) I saw 4 Men that had got a Parson's Hat among 'em in Rag-Fair. The Alehouse-man told this to Mr. Prior the Brewer, who sent for us, and we told him what we knew. Next Day Mr. Wood sent me Word that the 4 Men were gone into the Yorkshire Grey Alehouse. We went in and seized Past and Tripland, for Edwards and Beck were gone out before we came. But Mr. Archer and a Watchman went out and took 'em both; they were all carried to the Watch-house, and then we sent Word of what we had done to Mr. Prior. When they were carried before Justice Haydon, the Parson swore downright to Edwards, and one of 'em said, Do you know me ? and another, Do ye know me? And he answer'd, Yes, I have some Knowledge of you now, but I shall know you better when I have observed you a little. The Parson brought me a Warrant to search for his Hat, and by Beck's Information, we went to John Byton , a Pawn-broker's in Skinner's-street. Mr. Byton directly said he had such a Hat, and fetch'd it down to us: This is the Hat.

Edw Prior . This is the same that I lost.

Beck. We were bid 8 s. 6 d. and a Quartern of Rum for the Hat in Rag-Fair, but we thought it worth more; and so we went thence to the Poultry Compter to see a young Woman. I was taken ill, and so I deliver'd the Hat to Past to pawn, and went Home to take a Sweat. Past did not come home till next Morning, and then I asked him what he had done with the Hat? He said, he had pawn'd it at the Corner of Skinner's-street for 4 s. or 4 s. 6 d. I know not which.

John Byton . Tom Past brought this Hat to me. I had seen him before.

Past. Did not you say before the Justice, that you could not swear to me?

Byton. I said an Oath was a tender Thing, but I verily thought that you was the Man. But I knew you full well, and only waved the Matter, because I did not care for the Trouble of attending the Sessions.

Daniel Archer . I was with Mr. Hancock, the Headborough, in Swan Ally, where the Discourse happen'd as he has related. I went with him next Day to the Yorkshire Grey, where we took Past and Tripland, and then I and a Watchman went out to look for Beck and Edwards. We met 'em coming down the Street; we collar'd 'em, and brought 'em into Mr. Wood's House.

[Here the Prisoners were called on to make their Defense.]

Thomas Past . I own myself guilty of the Charge. I am willing to dye, and beg that I may dye. But Tripland is an innocent Man. When we were in New Prison, I said to Beck, why will you swear against Tripland, when you know he is innocent? And says Beck to me again, I must hang Three, or else I shall never get my Discharge.

Thomas Edwards . I confess that I am guilty of the same Fact, but Tripland is Innocent. I never saw him till the Day before we were taken.

James Tripland . I was but just come from Sea, and had never seen Back till the Day before we were apprehended.

John Ogden . I have known Tripland from a Child; and I never heard no disfame of his Honour in my Life. He was bound 'Prentice to William Breed in Strout, and afterwards bound himself to Sea. He follow'd the Sea in Merchants Service 5 Years, but coming home from Lisbon he was press'd on board the Edenburgh. I saw him at Chrisman, and he told me his Ship was to be paid off, and that he was then going down to Gravsand ; and that was the left time I saw him till he was taken up.

[ The Evidence against Sarah Whittle.]

Thomas Back . Whittle had bought Watches and Rings of Tem Past , and so we went to her to sell the Parson's Scarf. She asked us when we made it?

Court. What did she mean by that Question?

Beek. She meant, when did we srea it, and I told her last Night. Well, says she, and what must you have? we told her 8 Shillings, she said she could afford to give but a Shillings, and so we let her have it. If I was to break open your Lordship's House, and make all your Plate, she would buy it of me.

Richard Hanoak . As we were carrying the 4 Men before the Justice, some of the Women in Rag-fair said, why don't ye wake up the Receiver? Who is that, says I? Why, Whittle, said they.

Sarah Whittle. These Men asked me to buy the Scarf, but I told 'em it would not do for me; they came again in half an hour, and said, will you buy or no? and I told 'em, I would have nothing to do with it.

John Davison . I asked Beck (in New Prison) how he could swear against Whittle? and he call'd me Black-guard Bastard, and said he would hang 20 before he'd hang himself.

Three or four Rag-fair women appear'd to her Character, and said, they knew no harm of her.

The Jury acquitted Whittle and Tripland, and found Past and Edwards guilty . Death .


View as XML