Offence: Violent Theft > highway robbery
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53. William Gordon of St. Margaret's, Westminster , was indicted for assaulting Francis Peters , Gent. on the Highway, putting him in Fear, and taking from him a Hat with a Crape Hatband, value 5s. a Wig, value 40s. a Silver Watch, value 4l. a Gold Ring, value 15s. and 12s. in Money , Feb. 26 .
At the Prisoner's Prayer the Witnesses were examin'd a-part.
Mr. Peters. On the 26th of February, near 8 at Night, I and my Daughter were returning from Kensington in a Hackney Coach; the wooden Shutters of the Coach-doors were drawn up close; a little on this side of Knights-bridge , some body tap'd at one of the wooden Shutters, and my Daughter let it down, when presently a Man on Horseback put something into the Coach (I suppose it was a Pistol) and said, Deliver your Money! I took out some Money, I guess it might be about 12s. and gave him. He then said, Give me your Hand, which I did; and he pulled off my Ring. It was a mourning Ring, I had it made with several others of the same kind, on the Death of my Uncle; the Inscription was, Dan. Brown 22 May, 1732. AEt. 80. He asked for my Sword; I told him I had none; Then give me your Watch, says he. I pulled my Watch out, and in pulling, the Chain slip'd off. I gave the Chain to my Daughter, and the Watch to the Prisoner. Whether it was after I had given him my Watch, or before, I cannot be certain, but he snatch'd off my Hat and Wig. I expostulated with him on that Occasion. I told him it was very unusual for Men of his Profession to take such Things, and that it being very cold it might indanger my Health. He swore plentifully, gave me a great deal of opprobrious Language, and told me that he would take all he could get. While we were in this Debate, a Man came from the Causeway with a Candle and Lanthorn, upon which the Highwayman rode off. The Man with the Lanthorn follow'd, and alarm'd the Neighbourhood, and my Servant ( Tho Watts ) who was behind the Coach, got down and went after them, but return'd before the Prisoner was apprehended. I ty'd a Handkerchief about my Head, and the Coachman drove on. Next Morning, being Tuesday, I sent for Mr. Delander, who made my Watch, to have it advertis'd. He went home to look for the Number, and brought me word, that the Prisoner was taken at Knightsbridge. I have a Friend there (Major Aldy) who is a Justice of the Peace. I sent my Man that way, to enquire if any of my Goods were found upon the Prisoner; my Man went to the Major, who sent me word of the Particulars, and that he could not detain the Prisoner without my Evidence. I took Horse, and went thither that Afternoon. Mr. Aldy shew'd me these Goods. This is the Watch, I have Reason to know it, for I have had it these 20 Years. The Swivel is broken off, and here's my Name F.P. In a Cypher engraven on the Back of the Case. This is the Wig, 'tis seal'd with black Wax ('tis my Daughter's Seal, with my Coat of Arms in a Lozenge,) this, with as much Certainty as is possible, I believe to be mine; and this is the Ring which I verily believe is mine too. Here's the Inscription on it, which I mentioned before, tho' indeed I gave away several of the same Sort upon my Uncle's Death; but they were all made fit for the Persons they were design'd
Court. What did he say he was sorry for?
Mr. Peters. He did not say for what, but only that he was sorry. I told him I did not expect him to make a Confession to me. As near as I can guess, he at that time had on the same kind of Habit as the Person had who robbed me. And I thought him much of the same Bulk and Size, being a very lusty tall Man, though I am the less certain as to that, because he that robbed me was on Horse-back, and I could not so well determine as to his Height. And as it was near Eight at Night, it was too dark for me to distinguish his Person, or the Colour of his Clothes, though when the Lanthorn came, the glimpse of the Candle gave a better Observation, but not enough to enable me to be positive.
Prisoner. When the Gentleman came to me in the Roundhouse, he said that I was the Man; upon which I told him, if I was, I was sorry for it.
Court. The Gentleman speaks very fair, he does not swear that you said you was sorry you had robbed him, but only that you was sorry.
Thomas Watts . I was behind the Coach when my Master was robbed; it was about Eight o'Clock on Monday Night, betwixt Knightsbridge and the Park-Gate. I believe the Prisoner to be the Man; I could distinguish his Person by the light of the Lanthorn; he had a whitish great Coat on; he bid the Coachman stand, and then went to the Window and bid them open it. Then he said, Give me your Money; which I suppose was done, because I heard him say, Is this all? Then he said, Give me your Sword. My Mistress answered, My Father has none. And then he asked for my Master's Watch and Ring, and I believe they were delivered to him, but I do not know for certain. And about that time I saw him make a Motion with his Hand in the Coach, and he brought out my Master's Hat and Wig. A Man coming along with a Lanthorn, I beckoned and spoke to him softly. He came towards me, and I jumped down, and told him, that a Highwayman was robbing my Master; the Light coming up, the Prisoner turn'd his Horse and rode towards Knights-bridge. That's the Man, says I; and so I and the other Man follow'd, and alarm'd the People; but the Prisoner was not then taken. So I came back, and found my Master with a Handkerchief on his Head. Next Morning my Master sent me to Newgate, to see if any such Person was come in. I heard of none there, and then I went to the Gatehouse, and there was none there neither; but going towards Kensington, I called at the Sun Alehouse, where I heard that such a Man was taken, and coming back I saw the Prisoner going from the Roundhouse to the Justice's. The Justice gave me a Note to my Master to desire him to come and see the Prisoner in the Afternoon, and my Master went.
Henry Spencely . As I was coming home from London with my Lanthorn, I saw a Coach standing in the Road, and the Footman behind beckoned to me. I went towards him, and said, What do you want honest Friend? He made me no Answer just then, but presently such a Man as the Prisoner is for bulk brushed by me. He was in a white Rug Coat, he had something in his Hand, which I guess was a Pistol; I struck at him, and cry'd out, Stop Highwayman. The Town was alarmed, but no Body stopt him.
Court. How so?
Spencely. Because I suppose they did not dare to do it. I followed him, and Mr. Peters's Man came after me, expecting the Highwayman had been taken; but finding that he was not, he return'd to his Master, I continued my Pursuit till I came to the Halfway-House betwixt Kensington and Knights-bridge, and looking through the Window I saw the Prisoner sitting on Horseback in the Kitchen.
Court. On Horseback in the Kitchen? Was the Door high enough for him to ride in?
Spencely. Yes; I saw he was such a ManHenry Cornish , and he agreed to go with me. We went back to the Half-way-House, but the Prisoner was not then in the Kitchen.
Mr. Peters. When you saw the Prisoner thro' the Window, had he one or two Hats on?
Spencely. I can't say as to that; but not seeing him in the Kitchin when I came back, I asked the Landlord if such a Man had not been there. He did not answer me readily, which made me suspect the Prisoner was concealed in the House; but at last he said, such a Man had been there, but he was gone. I told him that Gentleman was my Friend, and I should be glad to drink with him. My Landlord made me no answer, and I finding that the Pretence I made would signify nothing, I told him that that Man was a Highwayman, that I had seen him thro' the Window but a little while ago, and that I had been to get Assistance to take him. Presently a Man came to the Door, and cry'd Hollo! some Body said, That's he. I was just going to step out, but my Landlord pushed out before me, and seized him first; I followed directly, and others after me, and then my Landlord pulled him off the Horse.
Court. Did he make any Resistance?
Spencely. After we had seized him, he dragged us, I believe, a matter, of 18 or 20 Yards before we could get him down, and he struggled a little upon the Ground, but I believe that was rather to make away with what he had about him, than upon any other Account.
Court. What Clothes had he on at that time?
Spencely. A dark Wig, a light Rug Coat, with a Red Coat under it.
Prisoner. Was I drunk or sober?
Spencely. He was seemingly very sober. We brought him into the House and searched him. I examined his Right hand Coat Pocket, and took out a Handkerchief, a light Bob Wig , and this Ivory Whistle; it has a single Call at one end, and a double Call at the other. You shall hear now - Here's the single Call [whistles] - and here's the double one [whistle again.]
Mr. Peters. The Wig that Spencely found was not mine.
Spencely. While we were searching him, the Landlady seem'd to take the Prisoner's part; What! are you going to rob the Man? says she - He's a substantial Innkeeper - and as he is a Gentleman, use him like one. I carried him before the Justice at Knights-bridge, and there the Things that were taken from him by several Persons were produced and put in a Hat. I saw there was a Mourning Ring among them with the Name of Dan. Brown upon it.
Mr. Peters. I have People here, who made the Watch, the Ring, the Hat, and the Wig, if your Lordship pleases to have them called now?
Court. No; six them first upon the Prisoner. Shew that they were in his Possession before you give any farther Proof of their being your Property.
- Arundel, I am Landlord of the Halfway-House. On Monday the 26th of February, about 6 at Night, the Prisoner, on Horse-back, call'd at my Door for 2 Mug of Beer; he drank and did not stay a Quarter of an Hour, but went away, and came again
Court. Which way did he go?
Arundel. I don't know.
Mr. Peters. Had he but one Hat on then, or two?
Arundel. I saw but one Hat. He came a third Time, and call'd at the Door for a Mug of Beer. It wanted then about 10 Minutes of 8. We desir'd him to come in, as People often ride into our Kitchen. He did so, and had another Quartern of Brandy, and would have had a third Quartern, but I did not care for drinking any more. Then he rode out again, and said, Now for London.
Court. Had he one Hat or two when he call'd this third Time?
Arundel. He had two Hats, and the uppermost had a Crape Hat-band - Presently after he was gone, Mr. Dukes a Distiller of Hammersmith came in, and said, You had a Highwayman drinking here just now. I don't know what he was, says I, but he paid me honestly for what he had, and it was no Business of mine to inquire into other People's Affairs; tho' if I had known as much before, I should have taken him if I could. Then Spencely came in and said, a Highwayman had been there on Horse-back, and that he saw him thro' the Window, but was afraid to come in. While we were talking, the Prisoner came the fourth time to the Door, and cry'd, Hollo! I went to the Door, and catch'd him fast by the Arm, and said, I take you on Suspicion of being a Highwayman. He snatch'd his Arm away, and I catch'd hold of the Lappet of his Great Coat. He made off 18 or 20 Yards, but I still hung by his Lappet, tho' I could not have held much longer; but then I fetch'd him off his Horse, and said, I have him! Spencely, I believe, was the next Man, for he was just by at the Door, when I came out; but I think no Man was anewst me when I first seiz'd the Prisoner; then he was search'd.
Mr. Peters. Did he pull out a Watch when he came in with the two Hats?
Mr. Peters. Had it a Chain?
Arundel. No; it was a Silver Watch, I look'd on it to see the Hour.
Court. Is that the Watch?
Arundel. It was about this Size, but I can't swear to it.
Prisoner. Was I drunk or sober?
Arundel. I don't think he was quite sober, but he was thoroughly merry; for if a Man is capable of sitting upon his Horse, I can't think, he can be said to be drunk.
Court. The Court is not now enquiring how long you have known him, and therefore you need not be afraid on that Account. - Did you observe whether he had one Hat on or two?
S. Arundel. The first time he came into the House he had but one Hat; but the second time he had two.
Court. The second Time?
S. Arundel. Yes, the second time he came into the House. He was in the House but twice, for the first Time he call'd, he only came to the Door.
Court. Then it was the third Time of his calling, that you saw him with two Hats: Did he pull out a Watch then?
S. Arundel. Yes, he held it in the Palm of his Hand by the Fire-side. I said it was 8 a-Clock, but he said, it wanted 10 Minutes.
Court. Had it a Chain or not?
S. Arundel. I saw no Chain.
Court. Was it a Silver Watch or a Gold one?
S. Arundel. Silver. Then he paid, and went away, and presently Mr. Dukes came from Hammersmith, and said, we had a Highwayman there, who had robb'd a Coach. Upon which I said to my Husband, My Dear, if he comes again stop him. After that there came in five or six People more, and the Prisoner came a fourth Time, and rid to
Solomon Powell . I was call'd out of my House, by a young Man and Harry Corney , to assist in taking a Highwayman, and after he was taken he was search'd; I did not see the Things taken from him, but when we came before the Justice, they were put in a Hat, and I saw among them a large Knife and a Whistle, and 16 s. 3 d. in Money.
Henry Corney . I assisted in taking the Highwayman. The Prisoner is the same Person that we took. I saw him searched, and saw a Wig, a large Knife, a Whistle, some Powder and Ball, and 16 s. 3 d. taken from him.
Court. Any Thing else?
Corney. Nothing else.
Corney. Yes, there was three Keys.
Court. Nothing else?
Corney. No; the Wig had a black Seal in it; I believe, this is the same. After the search I went out into the Road to the Place, where he was taken, and there I found two Hats one in another; I brought them in, the Prisoner own'd one of them, and the other had a black Crape Hat-band. I found a good double breasted brown Cape-Coat too; but the Prisoner did not own it, nor did any Body else. We found a Loaded Pistol too, near the same Place, this is the same; but this was not found till after he was carry'd to the Round-house.
Court. Do you know any thing of that Ring? [a Ring is shewn him, he looks at it and returns it.]
Corney. Yes, I remember now, that this Mourning Ring was taken out of his Breeches Pocket, at the Halfway-house. This is the very same, I am sure of it by the Name.
Court. What Name?
John Wheeler . I was call'd to aid Spencely, I believe the Prisoner is the same Man, that we then took at the Halfway-House. He was search'd there, and I saw a large Knife, two Keys and a Whilstle, and some Money taken from him.
Court. Any thing else?
Wheeler. I did not see any more taken from him; but there was a Wig and a Watch produc'd.
John Gritton . Coming from Kensington, I met Kensington Stage-Coachman, and he told me, a Highwayman had robb'd a Coach, and was gone into the Halfway-house. I went thither, and call'd for a Mug of Beer; by and by the Prisoner came to the Door, and Hollo'd. The Landlord went out and I follow'd, and assisted. The Landlord and the Prisoner struggled on the Ground together; but in about 5 Minutes, we got the Prisoner into the House, and I took a Silver Watch out of his Hand. It had no String nor Chain, and there was a Cypher on the Back-side. This is the Watch, to the best of my Knowledge; I kept it all Night in my Custody, and deliver'd it to the Justice next Day.
Justice Aldy. This is the same Watch that I had from that Witness.
Gritton. I searched the Prisoner farther, and took a Wig with a black Seal in it out of his Coat Pocket - I believe this to be the same. I gave it to George Lines , who delivered it to the Constable or the Justice. The Prisoner stood still, and was easy while we search'd him.
Prisoner. How was I dr ess'd?
Lines. You had a black Wig, a light colour'd Great-Coat, and a Red-Coat under that?
Prisoner. Was the Great-Coat Cloth?
Court. Are you sure of that? Recollect.
Lines. Yes, it was Cloth to the best of my Knowledge.
William Wichelow , Constable. On Monday Night the 26th of Feb. the Beadle told me, that a Highwayman was apprehended, and I must come and take him into Custody; I found him at the Beadle's House, from whence he was carry'dGeorge Lines ; this is the Wig, I have kept it ever since under Lock and Key.
J. Walker. I was quarter'd at Mr. Arnold's [Arundel's] House, where the Prisoner was taken. The second time he came into the House he had two Hats on, and the top Hat had a Mourning Hat-band. He asked what a Clock it was; Somebody said near 8, upon which he pulled out a Watch without a Chain. He ask'd how far it was to Kensington? I said half a Mile. Then he said, he'd go to London. Soon after he was gone, Spencely the Baker came in, and enquired for him, and in a little time the Prisoner rid up to the Back-Door, and call'd. I saw him thro' the Window. I ask'd him what he would have? He said, A Mug of Beer, Soldier. I went into the Back-Parlour, and told my Landlord. Then I went out first, and took hold of the Prisoner's Horse's Bridle, and then my Landlord came out, and seiz'd him. Upon which he spur'd his Horse, and broke the Bridle out of my Hand, and as he turn'd about; my Landlord slipt his Hand, and catch'd hold of the Lappet of the Prisoner's Coat, and cry'd, I have him. The Prisoner got Seven or Eight Yards from the Door, and then we secur'd him.
Court. Seven or Eight Yards?
Walker. It was there or thereabouts; I won't swear to a Yard or two. The Prisoner was brought in, I saw two Wigs taken out of his Pocket. This Wig with the Black Seal is one of them; there was a Whistle and a Ring too; I heard it said before the Justice, that there was the Name of one Mr. Brown upon the Ring. There was a Purse of Powder found upon him too, and five Bullets, and a green Silk-Purse, with 16 s. 3 d. After he was search'd, I and another Man went out with a Lanthorn and Candle to the Place where he was taken, and there we found two Hats stuck-together, the same that he had on in the House; the outermost was a new Hat, with a Mourning Hat-Band. I left a Mark on it, and this is the very same. We found a brown Double-breasted-Coat too, I suppose he might let it fall, when he was pull'd off the Horse. I brought all these Things into the House, and the Prisoner own'd his own Hat, and his Wig that was in it.
Charles Stafford . I was present when the Prisoner was taken; I saw him search'd, and two Wigs taken out of his Pocket, one of them had a black Seal; a Mourning Ring was taken out of his Breeches Pocket, the Inscription upon it is Dan. Brown - this is the Ring. I held him while he was searched; I had the Ring in my Hand, and look'd on it, and so did others, but we did not then stand to read the Inscription.
Court. You said it was inscribed, Dan. Brown; when was it that you saw that Inscription?
Stafford. Not till we came before the Justice.
John Garlick . Coming from Kensington, our Stage Coachman, Will. White, said there was a Robbery committed between Hyde-Park Corner and Knights-bridge, and the Highwayman was at the Half-way House, sitting on Horseback in the Kitchen. We went thither; the Prisoner was gone; but in a quarter of an Hour he came again, and knock'd at the Door, and said, Hollo! let's have a Pint of Beer. Says Spencely, That's the Man. The Landlord and Gritton went out and seiz'd him, and cry'd, Help! I lifted the Prisoner up, and said Let's bring him in, and see that he don't kill some of us. Gritton took a Watch out of his Hand, and a Wig with a black Seal, out of his Pocket. The Watch had no String, nor Seal, nor Chain, and there was a Cypher on the Back, for I took Notice of it, and this is the same Watch. I took the Powder and Ball, and Ring, out of his Pocket, and I saw the two Hats taken up where the Prisoner was pull'd off his Horse.
Mr. Delander. I made this Watch for Mr. Peters, and I had it to mend about a Months ago. And this Ring is one of those I made for him, on his Uncle's Death. The other Rings had the same Inscription.
Prisoner. Pray let Gritton or the Constable be ask'd if I was drunk or sober.
Gritton. I believe he was drunk.
Wichelow. And I believe so too, because after I had put him in the Watch-house, I heard him a hammering and thumping, and I called to him, and told him, I'd be with him presently, and when came he had broke down the Bracket of a Bench; I asked him why he did it? And he said, he wanted to get out.
Court. Is a Man's endeavouring to get out of Custody a sign of his being drunk?
Prisoner. What Coat had I on?
Wichelow. A lightish-colour'd Rug Coat, with a Nap
Gritton. The Morning after the Prisoner was taken, he said, he believed the Ring and Watch would be of detriment to him.
Prisoner. Yes, I said I had committed the Fact, they wou'd be so - I own such Things were taken from me; but I found them on the Road, and I was so drunk that I fell twice off my Horse at the Park Gate. And it is strange that a Man in such a Condition should in 5 or 6 Minutes afterwards commit a Robbery.
Court. Have you any Witnesses to the Fact, or to your Character?
Prisoner. None to the Fact; but I have several to my Character.
Then he call'd several Butchers; but none appear'd, except his Brother-in-law.
Court. Were you intimate?
Nellis. Yes; he lived in my Neighbourhood in Whitechapel.
Court. What Business do you follow?
Nellis. I am a Butcher; and he is the same Trade, but he does not follow it now.
Court. And you swear you have known no Harm of him?
Nellis. Not to me, not any that belongs to me.
Court. You know that's not the Question. On your Oath, Sir, (and consider what you swear) has he the Character of an honest Man or a Highwayman?
Nellis. I have said all that I know, and I can go no farther.
Court. Give a direct Answer. What's his general Character?
Nellis. Why - why - some - some will call him an honest Man; and - and - and -
Court. And what?
Nellis. And some will - say otherwise - they will call him a Rogue - but I never called him so. The Jury found him Guilty . Death .