John Ackers, John Welton, William Booth, Violent Theft > highway robbery, 12th January 1733.

Reference Number: t17330112-26
Offence: Violent Theft > highway robbery
Verdict: Guilty
Punishment: Death

34, 35, 36. John Ackers , John Welton , and William Booth of St. James's Westminster , were indicted for assaulting Richard Harvey on the Highway, putting him in Fear, and taking from him a Penknife and 35s. his Goods and Money, and an Iron Key , the Property of John Shute , Esq ; December 12 .

[At the Request of the Prisoners, the Witnesses were examined apart.]

Richard Harvey . On the 12th of December, near 9 at Night, I was going with a Letter for my Master Col. Shute , to the Foreign Post, and under the dead Wall, at the End of Albemarle-street , I was seiz'd by some Street Robbers, I know not how many, but there were more than two; they sat me upon a Rail opposite to the dead Wall, and blinded me with their Hands, and then punching me in the Face with something, they took 1 l. 15 s. and an old clasp Penknife of mine, and a Clock Case-key of my Master's from me, and then giving me a thump upon my Back, they bid me go about my Business. It was very dark and I don't know who they were.

Charles Mascall . On the 11th of November Booth and I stop't a Coach between 6 and 7 at Night, and robb'd two Gentlemen of two Purses, a Guinea and Silver; and on the 12th of December between 8 and 9 at Night we attacked the Prosecutor in Albemarle-street, Welton stopt him first, then I took hold of him, Ackers jobb'd him in the Face with a Pistol 3 times, and then Booth came up, clapt a Pistol to his Throat, and blinded him with his Hand.

R. Harvey. I felt something like Iron at my Throat, but did not see what it was.

Mascall. Weston took 19s. 6d. from him, I took a Key, and Sam Goodman (for there were 5 of us) took a clasp Knife, I saw no more

Money than 19 s. 6 d; but we often cheat one another in those Cases, there might be 5 l. for ought I know. Ackers afterwards took the Knife from Goodman, and threw it over a House; then we all went through St. Martin's Court, where we bought 8 pennyworth of Meat at a Cook's Shop, and so to an Alehouse in Drury-lane. I don't know the Sign, but it is the corner of a Court that goes to Blackmore-street, and is next door to a Tin Shop. There we eat the Meat and spent 17 Pence half penny in Beer and Bread.

Court. What Meat was it, and how was it drest?

Mascall. It was ready drest, but cold, I believe it was roasted; it was a sort of a Breast of Mutton, there was 2 pieces, and one had a Marrow-bone to it.

Booth. Does a Marrow-bone belong to a Breast of Mutton?

Mascall. I don't say that both pieces were the Breast. From thence we went to a Pawnbroker's in Bowl-yard, where Welton had pawn'd his Goat for 4 s. and we redeemed it. Then we went to a House we constantly use, the King's-Arms, the Corner of Lawrence-Lane in St. Giles's. 'Tis a grand bandy House, where they harbour Thieves and Whores, and let 'em in at all Hours in the Night. There we had some Beer, and I being about to go home, asked them to let me have a Shilling; they denied me at first, but afterwards Ackers and Booth came out and gave it me, and I went away and bought some Victuals with it for my Family, but the Prisoners lay there together.

Court. How do you know?

Mascall. They commonly lie there, and I found 'em there at 9 o' Clock the next Morning; then they gave me one Shilling more for my Share, so that I got but 2 s. in all.

Court. How came you to differ?

Mascall. I heard that Goodman was going to make himself an Evidence, and so I got the Start of him, and went voluntairly before Justice Hilder and made my Information. Goodman was taken with the rest, but he was afterwards admitted an Evidence too. The Robbery was on the 12th of December, and I made my Information on the 18th of December.

Court. Where did you meet before you went out upon this Robbery?

Mascall. We met that Morning as usual about nine o' Clock, at the King's-Arms, and there we staid till between 6 and 7 at Night, and that's the Time we commonly go out to pick Pockets, and what Handkerchiefs we meet with we bring to the Woman at the King's Arms; then we get our Suppers, and afterwards turn out upon Street-Robberies. That Night we went round all the Streets till we came to Albemarle Street, and there we stood by the Garden to look-out, till we met with the Prosecutor. We had three Pistols among, us, Ackers, Booth, and Goodman had each of 'em one, but I had none that Night. I had been out with them but three Weeks; the first Time was the 11th of November, when I committed that Robbery with Booth. I was a Carter before, and a Master, but I met with Losses.

Booth. Kirk the Thief-catcher lent him those Pistols to produce here in Court.

Mascall. Goodman pawn'd his Coat to buy these Pistols, and I happening to see them lying over their Bed, they told George Sutton of it, (he is now in the Bail Dock) and he said I might as well turn-out with them, and so I had them to keep.

Booth. He has said that he had these Pistols six Weeks, and now he says that he had not known us above three Weeks.

Mascall. I say I had not robb'd with you above three Weeks.

Booth. How came you and I acquainted?

Mascall. I knew your Father 15 or 16 years, and my first Acquaintance with you was seven years ago; you used to come and enquire after me.

Booth. Sam Goodman 's Friends gave 7 s. to these Thief-catching Bailiffs, Kirk and Brock [alias Brogden Poplet] to make him an Evidence. Mascall is a Thief-catcher too, he belongs to their Club. He took Viner White, (when I and Sutton were Evidences* ) and he had 9 l. odd for his part of the Reward. I set down a Candle by him at the King's-Arms, and it happened to burn his Wig, upon which he swore that Jobb should fetch him 140 l. He has ow'd me a Spight ever since, and once he went to cut my Throat.

* Against C. Patrick, W. Moods and V. White, in September last. Vide Sessions Paper, Numb. 7. Part 1. Page 185.

M. I and Sutton and Booth had been drinking at Puddington, and in coming over the Fields Booth cut my Arm.

Samuel Goodman . On the 12th of December, between 8 and 9 at Night, the Prisoners and I and Charles Mascall were walking about the lower End of Albemarle-Street, there's a dead Wall on one Side, and Rails on the other; the Prosecutor coming along, Welton stop'd him; Ackers hit him a Knock or two in the Face with a Pistol; Booth blinded his Eyes with his Hand, and hit him under the Throat with another Pistol; Welton took his Money, and told us there was but 19 s. and 6 d. tho'it seems there was more; Mascall took a little Key, and I took a clasp'd Knife, and then we all ran away. We bought some cold Mutton at a Cook's Shop (I don't know the Name of the Place) it cost about 8 d. there were two or three odd Pieces of it ready dress'd; I believe it was roasted; one was a Marrow-bone Piece.

Court. And what was the other?

G. They were both Marrow-bone Pieces. Then we went to an Alehouse in Drury-Lane (I don't know the House) and there we had 3 or 4 Pots of Ale, and broil'd the Mutton and eat it. We spent about 18 d. we did not stay a great while there, but went to the King's-Arms the Corner of Lawrence-Lane, where we always used to lie, and there we all went to Bed.

Court. Did you all lie there that Night?

G. Yes.

Court. Are you sure of it?

G. Yes, I think so; except Mascall; I believe he went away, for he did not use to lie there because he has a Wife; but Ackers, Welton and Booth lay together, I saw them a-bed. We were all together next day at the same House.

Court. Was Mascall there?

G. I can't say, but he used to come every Morning. We divided the Money over Night; I and Mascall had 2 s. a-piece, and there was 4 s. paid to fetch Welton's Coat out of pawn.

Court. What Arms had you?

G. Three Pistols.

Court. Who did they belong to?

Samuel Goodman . To all of us alike. They made me fuddled, and I pawn'd my Coat for 18 s. and with that we bought a Pair of Pistols; I am not sure that these here are the same Pistols, but they were such.

Court. If you bought 'em, how came you not to keep 'em?

G. They used to keep 'em and plant 'e m as they pleas'd; I had not gone out with them above six Weeks.

Court. How long after the Fact was it before the Discovery was made?

G. I was taken up the Week before Christmas.

Court. Was the Robbery in Albemarle-street the last you committed together?

G. No; the Saturday before we were taken we robb'd a Man of 6 d. half-penny in Lincolns-Inn Fields, about 8 at Night.

Court. How came you acquainted with such Company?

G. I can't tell.

Court. How old are you?

G. Nineteen.

Court. Who pawn'd your Coat?

G. Sutton. I had been drinking at a Gin-Shop all Night.

Booth. He and Mascall may well be in one Story, when they lodge together.

John Smith , Constable. When the Prisoners were taken, Mascall said they had robb'd a Man in Albemarle-street; he produc'd this Key, which he told me they took from the Person. I shew'd it to the Prosecutor, who said he had lost such a one, but could not swear to it, tho' upon Trial it fitted and open'd the Lock of his Master Col. Shute 's Clock-Case.

Ackers. I never saw Mascall but twice in my Life.

Welton. Mascall swore in his Information, that we robb'd a Man in Lincoln's-Inn Fields, and that he heard the Man cry out, but afterwards he own'd that he was not there.

Court. If you desire it, you may have his Information read; it may be of Service to you if it shall appear that he has varied from it, but if it agrees with what he swears now, it will be Evidence against you; it can be no Evidence except you call for it, but your insisting to have it read will make it Evidence, for it will be a Witness of your own producing, therefore consider what you do.

Welton. I desire it may be read.

Then Mascall's Information was read. It was taken before Vol. Hilder, Esq; Dec. 18. 1732, and sets forth, that on Sunday the

10th of December, Mascall, Goodman, and the Prisoners robb'd and abused a Man in Lincoln's-Inn Fields; that on the 11th of November, Mascall and Booth, between 6 and 7 at Night, stopt a Coach on the Backside of Gray's-Inn, and robb'd 2 Gentlewomen of 2 Purses, a Guinea and some Silver; that on the 12th of December, between 8 and 9 at Night, Mascall, Goodman and the Prisoners robb'd a Man in Albemarle-Street, of 19s. 6d. a Knife, and a Key; and that on the 16th of December, about 8 at Night, they robb'd a Man in Lincoln's-Inn Fields, of 3 d. Half-penny.

Court. When did Mascall say, that he was not present at the Robbery in Lincoln's-Inn Fields?

Justice Hilder. He said he was not near them, but was looking out upon the Watch at a Distance; but was within Sight, and that the Person was used ill, and cry'd out.

Welton. He said, he was on one side of the Field, and we on t'other, and that he first walk'd along the dead Wall, where he met two Gentlemen, and seiz'd one of them, but let him go again, and then he said, he turn'd back, and went another way.

Court. If he stood at a Distance to watch, he was equally guilty of the Robbery with those who took the Money from the Man.

Welton. He made an Agreement with Kirk and Brock, Will. James, and the rest of the Thief-takers in Drury-Lane, to apprehend us, and they are to share the Reward among them: Kirk would have taken my Life a Week or two before this Affair, and he swore then he would hang me before a Fortnight was at an End.

Court. Kirk has not appeared against you.

Welton. He's ashamed to appear now, he's so well known, he was concern'd in taking Charles Patrick , and Will. Meeds, and appeared against them to get the Reward. But I told him, he should have no more hundred and forty Pounds, and upon that he swore, that I threaten'd to set his House on Fire, and he lent Mascall these Pistols on purpose to produce in Court against us.

Elizabeth Welton. John Welton is my Son, he was always very dutiful and endearing to me.

Court. How did he live?

E. Welton. I keep a Chandler's Shop, and am Landress to several Knights and Baronets, and he used to assist me, and would work like a Horse in carrying out my Goods; I have trusted him with Things of great Value, and I never knew that he wrong'd me of a Farthing, I live in Great St. Ann's-Lane, in Westminster, and he has lodg'd at my House for this Year and Half.

Court. Did he constantly lie at home?

E. Welton. Yes, he never lay out of my House, except when his Uncle was taken Sick, which was within this 5 or 6 Weeks, and then he used to go, and see him, and sometimes stay'd there all Night.

Thomas Brown and William Abbot . We have known him from a Child, but we know little of him for these 4 or 5 Years past, tho' never heard that he had a bad Character.

Court. Have you any Witnesses Booth?

Booth. Witnesses on my side would signify nothing if I had a thousand, because I have been wild, and have been an Evidence; but what is sworn against me now, is a false as God made the World; Mascall told Sutton that he would hang us both. The Jury found them all guilty of the Indictment. Death .


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