Peter Merche, Violent Theft > highway robbery, 24th April 1734.

Reference Number: t17340424-43
Offence: Violent Theft > highway robbery
Verdict: Guilty
Punishment: Death

46. Peter Merche , was indicted for

assaulting James Chudd , in a Court near the Highway, putting him in Fear, and taking from him a Half-Guinea, and 10 s. 6 d. in Silver, the Money of John Foresee , March 18 .

James Chudd . I live with -

Court. How old are you?

Chudd. Thirteen.

Court. What do you think will become of you, if you should take a false Oath?

Chudd. I must be burnt in the Flames of Hell fire - I live with Mr. Pilkington at the Dover-Castle Ale-house in Quakers-street in Spittlefields . A Gentleman came to change a Guinea; my Master said he had not Silver enough, and sent me to change it in the Neighbourhood. I went to 3 Places, and could not get it changed; and so I came back again. But my Master bid me go to another Place, and there I changed it for half a Guinea and 10 s. 6 d. in Silver; and as I was going home with it, the Prisoner took me in his Arms just by my Master's Door, and swore, Damn his Blood, he'd cut my Throat, if I did not deliver all my Money. He rumbled in his Pocket to find a Knife. The Money was in my Hand, and he put my Hand into his Mouth and bit it, and some of the Money fell into his Mouth. I cry'd Murder, and Stop Thief, and he was taken by 2 or 3 Men about 100 Yards from my Master's Door. I went up to them, and he said he was innocent. But the Men said, they heard the Money fall, and I pick'd up 6 Pence, and others found more in the Kennel just by him. It was about 11 at Night, and he stopt me; I saw him plainly by the Light of a Lamp.

John Pilkington . My Neighbour came to change a Guinea; but not having Silver enough, sent my Boy to get it changed. He came back without Change, and I sent him again: He had not been gone above 3 or 4 Minutes, when I heard at next Door crying Murder, and Stop Thief.

Court. Whose Guinea was it?

John Pilkington . I had known the Man by sight a pretty while; but did not know his Name right and so I desir'd him on this Occasion to write it, which he did, and here it is - John Foresee .

Court. That's not sufficient Evidence. The Case is capable of better; you should have brought him here.

John Pilkington . I can fetch him presently.

Court. Go then. Let the Prisoner stand by a little.

Foresee comes in.

John Foresee . I went to Mr. Pilkington's to change a Guinea. He sent his Lad out, but the Lad return'd without Change, and so he was sent again. In a short space, we heard a Cry of Murder - Says Mr. Pilkington, that's my Boy's Voice; and so in half a Minute we ran out. We soon came up to the Prisoner, but he said he was innocent. The Boy shew'd me his Hand. I saw the Print of Teeth in it, and it was a little bloody, but not so much as for the Blood to run down. There was some Money found just where the Prisoner stood. One Man found about 7 s. 6 d. and another about 2 s. 6 d. - It was my Guinea that the Boy had to change.

Matthew Baker . Going home with John Quail from my Mother's in Wheeler-street, we past by Pilkington's Door, and being got about 100 yards beyond it, the Boy cry'd Murder and Thieves. We suspected a Robbery and stood up. We heard a Man run, and we saw him when he came within 3 or 4 yards of us, by the light of a Chandler's Shop. So we stopp'd him; he struggled to get loose, and he said he was innocent. But we held him till the Boy came, and then I heard some Money fall. The Boy said, Hold him fast, he has robb'd me of a Guinea We got a Candle from the Chandler's Shop to look for the Money. The Boy picked up 6 pence, and others found in the Kennel about 10 s. in all.

Prisoner. There's a great many Alleys thereabouts, and I told you that it was not I but a Man in Black, who was run down such an Alley; I was following him.

Baker. Yes he said so; but we saw none but he, nor heard any, for the Streets were quite still.

John Quail depos'd to the same Effect.

Prisoner. They said they'd stop me whether I was the right Man or no.

Quail. We said no such thing.

Prisoner. I was coming home. It was a rainy dark Night, and I could not see 2 yards before me; And then how could I know the Boy had the Money. My Wife and Friends knowing me to be innocent. went to Mr. Pilkington, and he told them, she'd hang me if it was in his Power; but if she had 40 or 50 l. to give, may be he might be easy.

Ann Stodden . I was at Pilkington's House, and the Prisoner's Wife begg'd him to make things easy; and he ask'd her, if she could make him recompence for the Damage he had receiv'd? he said, Yes, as much as lies in my Power-Can you make up 40 or 50 l.? says he. And she said, No. The Prisoner is my Brother in-Law.

Pilkington. I never said any such thing.

Watchman. The Prisoner was sober, civil, and sedate. When he was carried before the Justice, Pilkington push'd the Boy up, and bid him be brisk.

Francis Crouzee . I always heard the Prisoner was a very honest Man He was recommended to me as a deserving Object of Charity, and I have sometimes reliev'd him.

Mrs. Lucas. He was my Lodger 6 Months, my House was open to him, and I never found nor heard that he was any ways dishonest - This was 4 Months ago, and I have known but little of him since then.

Daniel Barnard . He is a Weaver by Trade; I have known him 11 or 12 Years, and never heard any Complaint against him.

The Jury found him Guilty . Death .


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