William Sidwell, Violent Theft > highway robbery, 28th June 1733.

Reference Number: t17330628-18
Offence: Violent Theft > highway robbery
Verdict: Guilty
Punishment: Death

19. William Sidwell , otherwise Robinson , was indicted for assaulting Elizabeth, the Wife of Edward Woodnot , in Angel-Court , near the Highway, in the Parish of St. Margaret's Westminster , putting her in Fear, and taking from her a Cloth Cloak, value 1s. the Goods of her Husband Edward Woodnot , May 11 .

Elizabeth Woodnot . I live in Angel-Court, by Story's in Westminster, and being not very well, I went out for a Dram to a neighbouring Distiller's, between 10 and 11 at Night, and there I saw the Prisoner, and a Soldier, and a Woman; I return'd home, and the Prisoner follow'd to my own Door. There are Steps to the Door, and going up, I put the Key into the Lock to open it, at which Time I felt somebody behind me, and fearing it was some Rogue who intended to get into the House, I turn'd about suddenly and cry'd out. He made an Offer to strike me, and I believe would have knock'd me down, but being aware of it, I partly shunn'd the Force of the Blow. so that he did not hurt me. Upon which he catch'd hold of my Cloak and tore the String (and if the String had not been torn, he pull'd 10 hard that I might have been choak'd). However, I got hold of one part of the Cloak, and he still pull'd to get it from me. My crying out had alarm'd some of the Neighbours, and John Williams came out, and saw the Prisoner pulling the Cloak, which he got from me, and ran away before Williams could stop him, but he was stopt presently after, and dropt the Cloak.

Court. Are you sure the Prisoner is the Man?

E.W. Yes. It was Moon-light, and besides, he is a Westminster Man, and I had seen him several times before - John Williams catch'd him in his Arms; not the John Williams who came out first, and who is a Carpenter, but another John Williams a Chairman; and after he was taken, he fir'd a Pistol at Mr. Hilliard.

Prisoner. Which side of your Cloak did I take hold of? Did I Discharge a Pistol at you? I know I was elevated.

E.W. I did not say you did.

Mr. Hilliard. As I stood at my own Door, in Angel-Court, I heard a cry of stop Thief, and going to the End of the Court, I saw two Chairmen who had stopt a Man. They said he had robb'd Mrs. Woodnot ; they had not hold of the Prisoner, but they [and others ] surrounded him. I ask'd them why they did not secure him? They said, they could not stay, because they were obliged to wait upon their Matter ( Mistress ) but they hop'd I would take care of him, and so he was deliver'd to me. I collar'd him, and brought him back up the Court, attended by several others. After he had struggled hard to get away, but without Success, the People pressing about him, Sir, says he, you have me now in your power, but I hope you won't let me be stifled, give me liberty to breathe a little. By all means, says I, and so the Crowd making way, he set his Back against the Wall, but I still held him by the Collar; he put his Hand down, but whether to his Pocket or Bosom I cannot be certain, and presently the People cry'd, Have a Care! there's a Pistol! I saw the Pistol presented at my Head, but my surprise was so great that I cannot take upon me to say, whether 'twas he or any other who held it. The Pistol was immediately fir'd but as it happen'd no Mischief was done. Upon this I carry'd him, and threw him down, and others assisting we tyed him, and carry'd him to the Watch-house.

Prisoner. See here! I am Lame in my Hand! how can a lame Man fire a Pistol?

John Williams , Carpenter. My House is next but one to the Prosecutor's, I heard her cry, Murder! Stop Thief! upon which I ran out, and saw the Prisoner then disengaging himself from her. He ran away, I cry'd out, Stop Thief, and so did he too; but however, he was stopt by a Chairman. I had left my Door open, and as soon as I saw he was taken, I went back to lock it, which when I'd done, I went down the Court again, and met Mr. Hilliard, and others bringing the Prisoner up. The Prisoner said he was an innocent lame Man, and never did an ill Thing in his Life. After some struggle, he said, he hop'd we'd give him leave to fetch his Breath; and so setting his Back against the Wall, I saw him put his Hand downward to his Pocket or Bosom, I can't say which, and pull out a Pistol and fire it. Upon which Mr. Hilliard knock'd him down, and I wrenched the Pistol out of his Hand, and then we bound him and search'd him. We found loose Gun-powder in every Pocket, and in one there were 2 or 3 Cartridges, and some small pimple Stones (Pebbles) which I suppose were to serve for Bullets. We were forced to carry him by main Strength to the Watch-house, for he would not walk one step that way; it was then too late to go before the Justice, and so for better Security we carry'd him the same Night from the Watch-house to the Gate-house. Next Day I went in the Coach with him to Newgate, and going along, he damn'd me for a Son of a Bitch, and swore if he had a Knife, he'd stick me in the Guts.

Prisoner. Where are those Pebble-Stones?

J. W.. I don't know, I believe they were thrown away, but here's the Pistol, the Cartridges, and the loose Powder.

Morris Williams , Chairman. Our Chair stands at Angel-Court End, by Story's Steps. We heard a cry of Stop Thief, and the Prisoner came running and crying stop Thief too; my Partner stopt him, and he drop'd the Cloak, and I took it up; we deliver'd him to Mr. Hilliard, because we were going to carry a Lady. This is the Cloak, and here the String is broke.

Prisoner. Did you see me take the Cloak off?

M.W. No, not I.

Prisoner. I would ask the Gentlewoman if it was in the King's Highway or in the House, that I took her Cloak off?

Mrs. Woodnot. It was at my Door, before I had open'd it.

John Williams , Chairman. Upon the crying stop Thief, the Prisoner came running down like mad, and crying Stop Thief as fast as any Body. I stood thus, - and he ran into my Arms, and my partner took up the Cloak.

Prisoner. How could a Man that is lame in his Hands, run and cry Stop Thief ?

J. W. ha!

Prisoner. Can you swear that I took the Cloak of o' your Back ?

J.W. My Back? That's another wise Question.

Prisoner. How far from me was the Cloak f ?

J.W. About a Yard.

R Blunt, Constable Upon searching we seen Powder in every ready made little Pebble stones, which I threw you Mr. Constable, I'll swear you pick'd my Pocket of Then he threw himself into and put his Body in such odd would pise one; I have known these 20 Years; he was transported about 14 Years ago, for cutting the back of a Coach, and stealing a Gentleman's Wig*.

* William Sadwell, was indicted for stealing a Perriwig, value 6 l. from Francis Negoes , Esq, Sept. 29. 1719, between 9 and at Night. The Prosecutor being in a Coach in Pall-Mall, the Prisoner cut the Back of the Coach, and snatch'd off the Wig, the Jury found him guilty Capitally, but he was afterwards Repriev'd, and order'd for Transportation. See his Tryal in the SESSIONS-PAPER for October 1719.

Prisoner. As for the Pistol and Powder, I can give a good Account how I came by them. I was Cook of a Ship, that was just come from New-England, in Company with another Ship, and our Captain invited the other Captain on board our Ship, and that Captain brought his Cook with him; and this Cook was more expert than I, in taking, and telling Stories and singing a Song, and besides, he could dance, and tumble, and play twenty Tricks to make Diversion; and your Captains, you know loe to have their Frolicks when they are at Sea. So that this Captain set great Store by this Cook, and this Cook took a great liking to me, and say he, Let's take some Cartridges of Powder, and make Wildfire to run about the Streets, for the Glory of God, that we are come safe to old England ; and so I came by this Powder, sweet Jesus Almighty knows it to be true. And as for the Pistol, this Cook was an, Flannovernia and a loyal Soul he was to his Majesty, and so he gave me this Pistol, and we drunk our Sovereign Lord King George's Health, and at every Glass we fir'd off a Pistol in honour of the Royal Family; and the Lord above knows, that this is the whole truth of the Matter, and that I had this Pistol on no other Account than to shew my Loyalty.

Court. What time was this?

Prisoner. The same Day that I was taken too.

Court. Where was the Ship ?

Prisoner. At Limehouse.

Court. And how came you to Angel-Court.

Prisoner. God knows that, for I was elevated, and can't give a particular Account ; only I remember we came from on board about 4 in the Afternoon, and this Cook row'd us a-shore with the wrong Ends of the Oars; and I believe he had some relations that liv'd about Angel-Court, and so I might bear him Company; and tho' I had a Pistol and Powder, I had no Ball.

Court. But it seems you had small Pebbles. How came you by them?

Prisoner. Pebbles ? Why I remember we were heaving Ballast the Day before, and the Cook and I threw many a Shovelful of Ballast at one another for Sport, and so I suppose some of it got into my Pocket. I have a great many Captains to speak to my Character, tho' it happens that none of them are here; but I am an innocent lame Man, and I further, it is wilful Murder. The Jury found him Guilty . Death .


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