John Cotton, Violent Theft > highway robbery, 7th September 1737.

Reference Number: t17370907-29
Offence: Violent Theft > highway robbery
Verdict: Guilty
Punishment: Death

32. John Cotton , was indicted for assaulting Thomas Gale , in the King's Highway, in the Parish of St. Mary Whitechaple, putting him in Fear, &c. and taking from him a Pair of Silver Buckles, value 15 s. a Steel Tobacco box, value 6 d. a Guinea, a Half Guinea, and 6 s. in Money , July 31 .

Thomas Gale . I serv'd my Time, with Mr. Sculter, a Bookbinder, at the King's Arms, in Sun-Tavern-Fields, Shadwell. On the 31st of July, some Company came to see my Sister, and staid with her 'till Night: About 7 or 8 o'Clock, I went to see them to their Home, in Bishopsgate street, and staid there after Ten. As I was going down Church-Lane , (in my way Home) by Whitechapel Church, as I came between the two Gardens, the Prisoner came up to me, and caught hold of my Collar: Damn your Eyes you Dog, Stand, says he. I look'd at him, and laugh'd in his Face, - you Monkey, says I, must I stand for you? Yes you Dog, damn your Eyes, you must stand for me, and so (says he) let's have no more of your Contentions. I told him I was a foolish Traveller, for I never carry'd Money about me at that Time o'Night He reply'd, - damn your Eyes, Money you have got, and Money I will have. With that he shook me by the Collar, and my Heel slipping on the little low Bank that runs along the Side of the Garden,

I fell down; but I recover'd myself and got up again, and threw him over the Bank into the Garden, and my own Hat and Wig went with him. I went over the Bank into the Garden to look for my Hat and Wig, and immediately there came one before me, and another on my Side, and one of them struck me over the Bridge of my Nose, and knock'd me down, then they dragg'd me to the Place where I had thrown the Prisoner, and he then came up to me and said - Damn you, you Dog, you struck me: - I'll send you Home as bare as Adam; then he sat down upon my Breast, and another of them sat down upon my Legs, and another sat upon my Belly and search'd me. They took 3 s. and five Farthings out of my right Breeches Pocket, and 3 s. and one Guinea, and a Queen Anne's half Guinea out of my left Pocket, (there was a hole thro' the Head of the half Guinea. ) After they had taken my Money, the Man that sat upon my Legs, look'd upon my Shoes and cry'd - Damn my Eyes, he has got a rare pair of Wedgers, - Let's take them; so they took them out of my Shoes, and look'd at them by the light of the Moon, and swore they had made a good Booty.

Q. Upon your Oath can you take upon you to say the Prisoner was one of the Men?

Gale. Yes; I can Swear the Prisoner was one of them; he was the Man that first stopp'd me; he sat upon my Breast and damn'd his Eyes, and said he would send me Home as bare as Adam. After they had robb'd me, they were going to strip me, and they tore 4 or 5 Buttons off my Coat, and 2 off my Waistcoat, in stripping me, but some Company happening to come down the Place, the Prisoner got off my Breast and cry'd, Damn you you Dogs, push away or we are all nail'd.

Prisoner. What Cloaths had I on?

Gale. A green Waistcoat, and a dark brown Wig.

Q. How could you distinguish the Colour (Green)?

Gale. The Moon shone very bright.

C. 'Tis difficult to distinguish Green from Blue, by Night.

Gale. The Moon shone very bright, - 'twas as bright as Day it self. After I was robb'd I went into the Queen's-Head in Church lane, I was very Bloody, and I described this Man to the People that were there.

Q. When did you see the Prisoner again?

Gale. On the Monday: I was robb'd the Day before, (Sunday Night). This Gentleman took him, and I saw him just after he was taken, and knew him again, among 30 or 40 People.

John Billinger . All I have to say is this. When we took the Prisoner, we brought him in a Coach to the Golden-Lyon in Goodman's-Yard in the Minories, and we sent for the Prosecutor. He came, and I believe there were 20 People in the House, the Prosecutor pick'd him out from all the rest, and said he was the Man. The Prisoner was then dress'd in a green Waistcoat, and a dark brown Wig.

Q. How came you to take the Prisoner?

Billinger. I was at the Queen's Head in Church-Lane on Monday Morning, and there I heard that the Prosecutor had been robbed, by such a Man. We found the Prisoner in Chick-Lane, running after another Man, whom we took with him. We had got Intelligence in Rosemary-Lane, that such Persons were making Sale of a pair of silver Buckles; so we went there to look for him, and there we found him. He behaved in a very surly Manner, and said he knew nothing of the Matter.

Thomas Gibbons . I was at the taking of the Prisoner in Chick Lane. We were informed he was gone that way to exchange the Buckles with another Person; so we went into the Minories, but there we could not find him; then we went into Chick Lane, there we took him and another Man, and brought them to Goodman's Yard, and sent for the Prosecutor, who pick'd the Prisoner out among 20 People, and said, that was the Man that first stopp'd him, and sat upon his Breast while he was robb'd; but he would not Swear to the other:

Thomas Mills . On Monday Morning about 7 o'Clock, August 1st, I had a little Business in Rag-Fair, and there I met with Mr. Harris, and he told me a Man had been robb'd by 4 Persons: I went into an Alehouse for a Pint of Beer, and the Prisoner and 3 more came by. He (the Prisoner ) had then on, a green Waistcoat, and a black Wig: Harris had described the Prisoner to me, and I imagined he answered the Description; so I went to look for Harris, that we might apprehend him; but while I was gone to look for Harris, the Prisoner was gone; we heard, ( upon enquiring after him) that he was gone to Chick-Lane; we went there, and took him and another, and brought them to the Golden-Lyon in Goodman's Yard; and when the Prosecutor came, he said that was the Man that stopp'd him first, but the other he would not swear to.

Q. Are the Witnesses acquainted with the Prosecutor?

Gale No, I never saw any of them, 'till it was upon this Occasion.

Ann Kelly . The Prosecutor (Gale) came into Mr. Anderson's, the Queen's Head in Church Lane, the Sunday Night that he was robb'd, all bloody, - 'twas the 31st of July, about 10 Minutes after 11 o'Clock: his Cloaths were all daub'd with Dirt, and his Nose and Mouth bloody. He said, he had been robb'd of a Guinea and half, and 6 s. in Silver. He said, the Fellow that stopp'd him had a great Scar here, (pointing to her Forehead) that his Nose turned up, and that he had a green Waistcoat, and a white natural sort of a Wig, and one of them he said, had a brown Wig on.

Q. Was that the Colour of the Wig?

Kelly. I can't say how he described the Man's Wig, that had the green Waistcoat.

Gale. The Prisoner's Hat had made a red Mark, very red upon his Forehead, and I took it then to be a Scar.

John Bareback . The Prosecutor came in that Sunday Night, and said he had been robb'd of his Money. The Blood run down his Face, and his Cloaths were daub'd behind. He told us, one of the Men had a Mark in his Face, and that his Nose turn'd up. He said, they had taken from him a Guinea, a half Guinea, 6 s. in Silver, and a pair of Silver Buckles.

Q. Did you take any Notice that some Buttons upon the Prosecutor's Cloaths were off?

Bareback. No, I did not observe his Buttons.

Defence. I never was guilty of such a Misdemeanor in my Life; they swear against me for the Reward: - they are all Thief-takers. The Prosecutor went to my Father and had a Note of 40 l. from him yesterday, and he said then, he believed I was not the Person.

Q. To the Prosecutor. Upon your Oath I ask you, whether you propos'd to make the Matter up for 40 l.

Gale. No, his Friends came to me the Day I went to find the Bill against him; and they applied to my Sister, to get her to perswade me to make it up; and a Gentleman came to me himself to perswade me to it, and he told me his Father would not stir for him, nor give a bit of Bread to save his Life.

Q. Upon your Oath, - have you took a Note of 40 l. to make up this Matter?

Gale. No, his Friends came to me, and offer'd me any Thing in the World to do it; but his Master came and told me, he would give me a Bottle of Wine if I would prosecute him.

Prisoner. I desire Mrs. Herrington may be asked, whether he did not hear the Prosecutor say he would not have appeared against me had i not been for Harris the Thief catcher.

Herrington. I never saw the Prisoner before in my Life; I know that Harris came several Times after Gale, and I abus'd him once, and called him Thief-catcher, and told him he wanted to take away the Fellow's Life, as he had done by many others, and he abused me, and call'd me a great many Bitches. I know the Prosecutor was very unwilling to take the Prisoner's Life.

Q. Did you ever hear the Prosecutor say the Prisoner was not the Man that robb'd him?

Herrington. No.

Q. Did you ever hear him say he was the Person?

Herrington. Yes, but he was unwilling to take his Life away.

The Prosecutor's Sister. I saw the Prisoner's Master; he said he had been an idle Boy, and that he would not trouble himself about him.

Prisoner. Ask her if she did not come to the Grate yesterday Morning, and tell me I might be easy, for her Brother had made this Matter up?

The Sister. The Prisoner's Friends came to our House last Tuesday, and said, if my Brother wou'd not prosecute, they would indemnify him as far as 100 l. would go: and yesterday Morning they fetch'd my Brother to the Prisoner's Master; I follow'd, and when I came there, his (the Prisoner's) Mistress told me, they were gone to the Boy's Father's. I went thither, and they gave me a Note for 40 l. to indemnify my Brother, and he took the Note, not to appear against him, to take away his Life; but he has since been inform'd, that if he did not prosecute, the Law was open against him, himself.

Mr. Gale. I did take the Note, and would not have appeared against the Prisoner, because I did not care to take away his Life; but Harris subpoena'd me here, and threat'ned to lay me in a Goal - he told me, if I did not appear, he would prosecute me. This is the Note I took.

Clerk reads.

Sept. 7. 1737.

We do jointly and separately promise to pay to Thomas Gale , the Sum of 40 l. of lawful Money of Great-Britain, if ever I John Cotton , or my Parents, in any kind, or I Stephen Young , Father to the said Cotton, do ever misleft (molest) the said Gale, then this Note to be in full Force and Vertue.

Daniel Grundey . John Cotton.

Q. Who is this Grundey?

Gale. He was the Man that was taken up with the Prisoner, - against whom I cou'd not swear.

C. These People ought to be all taken up for endeavouring to stifle the Prosecution.

Prisoner. He swore he had no Note, - now he has produced it, - he may as well swear wrong in one Thing as another.

Q. To Gale. How could you swear you had no such Note?

Gale. I did not know I had the Note about me, - I did not know whether I had best mention it or not.

Q. But you knew you was upon your Oath. The taking such a Note, not to Prosecute, is a Crime in you, and in them that gave it you, for which you may all be Prosecuted. Pray when did you take this Note?

Gale. On Wednesday Morning at this Place.

Prisoner. I signed this Note before I was arraign'd.

Mills. I appear'd here on Wednesday Morning, when the Prisoner was call'd up, and I informed the Court the Prosecutor was not ready to try him, but I have found since, that he kept out of the way on purpose.

Q. To Gale. When did you intimate to the Prisoner that you would try him in earnest?

Gale. Not at all: Harris brought this Subpaena to me, and obliged me to it;

The Prisoner had no Witnesses either to the Fact or his Character, and the Jury found him Guilty . Death .


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