William Simmonds, Samuel Steele, Violent Theft > highway robbery, 16th January 1734.

Reference Number: t17340116-11
Offence: Violent Theft > highway robbery
Verdict: Guilty
Punishment: Death

13,14. William Simmonds , and Samuel Steele , otherwise Smoaky Jack , assaulting William Payton , in an open Field near the Highway, putting him in Fear, and taking from him a Cloth-coat, a half Shirt, a Hat, a Wig, a Knife, a Fork, a Razor, a Silk-handkerchief, a Linen-handkerchief, and 20 d. in Money , July 15 .

Simmonds pray'd the Witnesses might be examin'd a-part, which the Court granted.

W. Peyton I have some Notion of the Prisoners, but can't swear to 'em positively. On Saturday Night I was going to Chelsea, in the first of the five Fields, from Buckingham-House, hard by the King's-Head , I saw an old Man lying under a Hay-rick, on that side next to the Horse-road, and as it was near the Houses, and I was benighted, I thought I might safely lie there too; so I went to the other side of the Rick, and laid my self down, and fell asleep. About 1 in the Morning, a little Man (like Simmonds) came and snatch'd my Pocket-book out of my Coat-pocket, I was then awake, for I had just had my Nap out. Aha! says I, What's that for? And catching up my Stick, I follow'd him. He turn'd back, and cut me into the Skull with some Weapon, I thought it was a Pistol by the Brightness, but Fidzar, their Accomplice, says it was a Cafe-Knife.

With that I lifted up my Stick to take him a Knock, when Fidzar appear'd, and Smoaking Jack, I suppose it was he, came behind me, seiz'd my Arm, and took my Stick away, and fell a beating and mauling me. The other, who was like Simmonds, kept pushing me in the Head with the Knife, and said, You Dog, do you resent it? He wounded me so that my Skull might be seen in five Places, and I was almost blinded with the Blood that run down my Face I found my self over power'd, and begg'd for my Life : You Dog, says he with a Knife, speak another Word, and I'll shoot you thro' the Heart, and with that he stabb'd the Knife against my Breast, but the Stroke falling upon the Button of my Coat, I received no hurt by it. They took my Hat and Wig, a C knife, a Fork, a Razor, a half Shirt, and 20 d. in Money, and then they wanted my Coat, which I was very for I had no Waist swore they would have it, or be the the Death of me, and so they went to beating and kicking me again and believe would have kill'd me, but that Fidzar, who was the least of the three begg'd for my Life, and took the Knife from Simmonds, and threw it over into the Horse-road : It was a Moon-light Night, for the Moon was at the Full; but I was robb'd in the Shade of the Hay-rick, and therefore I could not see their Faces so plain as certainly to know 'em again. They took my Coat, and left me for dead, and went off; but Steel came back and gave me a Blow on the old Wound, and ask'd me if I knew any of them, and then he beat me on the Eyes and Mouth, to hinder me from speaking or seeing, and so he went away again - Besides what I mentioned before, they took out of my Pocket a particular Thing that I kept secret, for no Body but myself knew that I had any such thing about me, and this Thing Fidzar describ'd to me so exactly, that I was satisfy'd he knew something of the Robbery - It was a turn'd Stick for a Snuff-Mill.

William Fidzar . I met with Simmonds at Buck's Brandy-shop, against St. Giles's-Church, on the 14th of July, in the Morning, I was in and out there all Day. Towards the Evening, Steel came in, and we drank together; says Simmonds to me, Will you go out with me and this Man to Night? Ay, says I Who is he? Why don't you know him? says Simmonds, it's smoaky Jack - That's a Nick-name that Steel goes by; so we turn'd out together about 11 at Night. They let me to Hide- Park, and so into the Field behind Buckingham-Wall : Now, says Simmond, let's cross to that Hay-cock ; we agreed, and he led the Way, and coming to the Hay-cock, the Prosecutor was lying under it, Damn says Simmonds, Who's here? And prese took a Pocket-book out of the Prosecutor's Pocket; the Prosecutor got up to follow him, but was stopp'd by Smoaky Jack, who took off his Hat and Wig, and beat him se- verely; when his Wig was off I saw he was bald headed, tho' he was but a middle Man. Simonds push'd a Knife at him would have kill'd him, but I begg'd his, and got the Knife away; I saw it was bent, and I toss'd it over the Rail into the P; but Smoaky Jack still kept beating, and kicking, and abusing him, and at last pull'd off his Coat. They shew'd me the Pocket-book, and a Sham-Shirt, and a little turn'd Stick that we knew not what to make of. The Hat and Wig were in my my Hands for I had them from Smoaky, when he took 'em from the Prosecutor; was any Mo- ney they sunk it, for I had no part of it. When we had got the Prosecutor's Coat we left him, but getting under the Rail I saw one of the Company turn back - I believe it was Simmonds - and I and the other coming to a high Bank, we waited for him, because two of us could not get over without the Assistance of a third, and so we help'd each other up, and went over Hedge and Ditch, 'till we came to a Ditch too wide for us, and then we return'd by the same Hay- cock, and came to Buck's at St. Giles's by 3 a Clock on Sunday Morning. I wash'd the Blood out of the Coat, and then Simmonds put it on, and Smoakey and he went away together. They to me at Buck's, about 9 the same Morning. They two toss'd up for their share in the

Coat, Simmonds won Smoakey's part and he was to pay me for my part; he had the sham Shirt too, and I had the Hat and Wig; the Wig I sold for 6 d. but the Hat (which we valu'd at 10 d ) I kept for my own wear. Simmonds did not go out with us that Night, but with Sutton and Stick-in-the-Mud* and a heap of them, that frequented Buck's House. Next Morning when I came to Buck's, expecting Simmonds would meet me there, and pay me for my part of the Coat, I heard that he, and Sutton, and others were taken up for robbing a Gentleman in Mary-bone-Fields.

* James Baker , alias Stick-in-the-Mud, and John Anderson , were convicted of two Burglaries last Sessions. See the Sessions-Paper, Numb. 1. pag. 11, 12.

Court. Have you any Witnesses here, that saw the Prisoners in your Company at Buck's ?

Fidzar. No, those that were with us were misfortunate People like ourselves.

Simmonds. Was it a Moon light Night?

Fidzar. Yes, it was Full-Moon.

Smoaky. You have been an Evidence three Times already. You deal with the Thief-catchers, and make a Trade of taking Men's Lives away.

Simmonds. I have been in Jail, for Want of Sureties, ever since this Robbery; and why did not you inform against me before now ?

Fidzar. This Robbery was not in my Head, 'till John Macdonald + told me that you intended to make yourself an Evidence; and then I surrender'd myself voluntarily.

+ John Macdonald, was an Evidence last Sessions against Henry Baxter , John Rock , and William Sickwell , See their Trials, Numb. I. Part I. p. 5.7.

Edward Crafts , Constable. I keep a Cook's-shop, in St. Sepulchre's Parish. About a Fortnight ago, Fidzar and the Beadle, and two or three others, came to dine at my House; and after Dinner, the Beadle charged me with Fidzar, who had surrendered himself; and I went with him before Justice Robe, where he impeached the Prisoners and Will. Travers, otherwise Moco Jack, and George Cotterel , otherwise Beans ++ .

++ See the Trial of Travers and Cotterel below.

The Jury found the Prisoners guilty . Death .


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