John Clarke, Violent Theft > highway robbery, 22nd May 1740.

Reference Number: t17400522-5
Offence: Violent Theft > highway robbery
Verdict: Guilty
Punishment: Death

252. + John Clarke , alias Smith, alias Pugg , of Pancras , was indicted for assaulting Richard Mason on the King's Highway, putting him in fear, &c. and taking from him a Watch, with the inside and outside Cases made of Silver, val. 40 s. and a Cornelian Seal, set in Gold, val. 10s. May 6 .

Richard Mason . On the 6th of May, between two and three in the Afternoon, I was going to my Business at Colney-Hatch , and at the Bottom of the Long-Fields , by the Side of the Pond, I saw a Man well dress'd, poking into it with a Stick; He call'd to me, and said, - there was a great Rat run into a Hole in the Bank! It may be so, - said I, and upon that he came up from the Pond- side, and walk'd on one side of me; and in about five Minutes Time he pick'd up a Catcher and Ball, and said he had found something. The Prisoner immediately came up, on my other Side, (unseen by me, 'till he was at my Side) and he wanted to buy the Catcher and Ball, of the Man who found it. I had no Knowledge of the Man who came up to me first, but I am sure the Prisoner is the Person who came up next, and wanted to buy the Catcher and Ball. They soon agreed for six-pence, and the Money being to be spent, they desired me to go with them, and drink a share of the Beer. Accordingly, I went with them to Spencer's House, the Sign of the Adam and Eve , at the Side of Pancras-Church Yard , and we sat down on a Bench before the Door; they call'd for a Pint of Home-brew'd, and the Boy that belongs to the House, came to the Door, and said to the Prisoner, - How do you do? How does your Master do? says the Prisoner, - I am just come from him at the Queen's-Head. After this, they desired me to walk in with them; and we went into the Back-side of Spencer's House, and sat down under the Back-shed. Then the Prisoner laid down his Hat, and desired Leave to go to the Little-house: When he returned, he brought in another Man, and this Man would lay a Wager of a Shilling, (to make the Company drink) that he caught the Ball in the Catcher, oftenest in 5 Times; and one of them asked me to give him 2 Sixpences for a Shilling: I pull'd out a Guinea, and four Shillings, and gave him 2 Sixpences, and immediately one of them snatch'd the Guinea out of my Hand, and then they push'd me out at the Back-Gate. I went away, and thought it was best to get from them; but they all 3 followed me, and when I had got about 500 Yards from Spencer's House, and about a Hundred Yards past the Corner of Fig-Lane, they made a full Stop upon me, and demanded my Watch. - They saw I had one, when I pull'd out my Money at Spencer's. One of them drew it out of my Pocket, and gave it to the Prisoner, who ran away with it over the Fields. They did not threaten me, but only laid hold of the Skirt of my Coat, and bid me give them my Watch: and one of them at the same Time drew it out of my Pocket, with the Cornelian Seal, set in Gold. - They first asked me, Where my Watch was? One of them stopped me, by getting before me, and the others came up, one on each Side of me; I was in such a Surprize, when they asked me for my Watch, that I could make no Answer. - 'I was the Man who caught hold of the Skirt of my Coat, that took my Watch out of my Pocket, and gave it to the Prisoner; I have not been able to find him yet; but I know his Face well. - To be sure I was afraid, when they follow'd me, and demanded my Watch: And upon my Oath, the Prisoner was the Man, who got before me, and stopped me, when my Watch was demanded. After they had got my Watch, I went back to Spencers

and asked for the Boy of the House, in order to be informed, if he knew any of these Persons; but the Boy was not to be found, and there was nobody in the House would give me any Answer at all. Spencer (the Landlord) was not then in the House (they said) but I saw his Wife, tho' I could not have a Sight of Him. I went a second Time to Spencer's, and saw his Wife: She desired me not to make a Noise in the House, but to step into the back Yard with her, and there she told me, - If I would come again the next Day, and bring an Officer with me, I might take the Men, for they were then to come again to her House. Accordingly, I went thither the next Day, with an Officer, but no Person was to be seen, except Mrs Spencer, and she told me, I might have my Things again, if I would be easy. I let her know, that I did not want to have them again, upon which she said. - Lord! Why my Husband has made up several of these Things, and the People have had their Goods again. When we found it was to no purpose to expect to take any of the Men at that House, we came away, and saw nothing of them, 'till the Day the last Prisoners were hang'd; and then I saw the Prisoner at the End of Parker's-Lane, as I was going up Holborn, I knew him again, and said to a Man, who was with me, - That's the Man who ran away with my Watch. My Friend did not think proper to take him then, left we should be knock'd on the Head; but in the Evening of the same Day, we took him at a House, by Covent-Garden Playhouse. - I never got my Watch again from that Time to this.

Jury's Q. Did you play with any of the Men for the Watch?

Mason. No; I did not play at all; neither for the Watch, nor Money.

Prisoner. Did not you lay me a Shilling, and did not you win it?

Mason. No, I laid no Wagers at all.

Prisoner. Did you not lay down a Guinea, upon a Wager?

Mason. No, I did not; when I pull'd out my Money, to look for 2 Sixpences, they snatch'd it from me.

Prisoner. Did you not offer to sell us your Watch?

Mason. No; I never did.

Robert Rhodes . I am a Headborough, and went with the Prosecutor to Spencer's at Pancras, to see for the Men who had robb'd him, but not finding any of them, we went to several other Places, without any Success. But on last Execution-day at Night, we concluded to go to Covent-Garden Play-house to look for the Prisoner; and there we met with one Purvis, who told us he had seen him about 5 Minutes before we came; so we went to a Publick-house in James-Street, Covent-Garden, and there we found him; I knew, and seized him, and told him he was my Prisoner. I think it was at the Sign of the One Boot. He asked me on what account I seized him? I told him, it would be time enough to inform him when he came before Colonel De Veil. '' Why (says he) I know '' I must go to Newgate, and I am as well acquainted '' there, as I am here. I know what it '' is for: it was not me, who took the Man's '' Watch, - it was another Man took it, and '' that other Man gave it to me, and I ran cross '' the Fields with it.'' I had not mentioned one Word about the Watch, when the Prisoner said this to me; but we had been at Spencer's about it, and Spencer offered Mason his Watch and his Money again, and I believe the Prisoner might have been informed by Spencer, that we were looking after him on Account of this Robbery. I do not know what he had about him, when he was taken, for we detained him at a Publick-house, till the Prosecutor came to us, and did not search him. When the Prosecutor came to us, he denied the Fact, and shammed drunk, and mad; but I am sure he was sober when I laid hold of him, and he drank nothing at all afterwards. He behaved in a very insolent Manner before Colonel De Veil, and we were obliged to hand-cuff him: and as we were carrying him down Holborn, to Newgate, he told us, - if he had a Pistol, he would blow our Brains out.

Prisoner. When this Man took me, there was one Mould with him; and Mould pulled out a Pistol, and held it to my Breast, and said he would shoot me, if I did not come along. The Prosecutor said he sent me the Guinea, and lost his Watch at Play; but they bid him swear it, - swear it; and knock'd me and my Wife down.

Andrew Harter . When we took the Prisoner at the Publick House, I told him I had Colonel De Veil's Warrant against him for a Robbery. Says the Prisoner, - '' I did not do it, - I '' was not the Person that took the Watch: there '' were three of us together; and it was another '' who was in the Company took it, and they ran '' across the Fields with it.'' I cannot swear that he said another Man delivered it to him, but the former Witness had been with the Prisoner two or three Minutes before I came in. - The Prosecutor was not present when the Prisoner said this.

Jury. Was he charged with having taken the Watch from the Prosecutor, when he said this?

Harter. I told him I had a Warrant against him for a Robbery on the Highway; but I cannot say, whether I told him it was for taking a Watch, or not. I heard him say, he would blow our Brains out if he had a Pistol; it was as we were carrying him in a Coach to Newgate.

Mr Rhodes persisted in it that the Account he had given of the Prisoner's Expressions, when he took him, was exactly true, and he repeated them again, agreeable to his former Evidence.

Prisoner. He perswaded the Prosecutor to swear against me for the Sake of the Reward.

Mr Rhodes. Upon my Oath, I did not speak to any one; about swearing against him for the Sake of the Reward, nor do I want any of it.

Thomas Simpson , Spencer's Boy. I live at Spencer's at Pancras, and have seen the Prisoner at the House two or three Times, but I cannot tell when it was.

Prisoner. Did not you see me at Spencer's with the Prosecutor and another Man; and did not you see me playing with the Catcher and Ball?

Simpson. Yes, I think it was the Prosecutor; and another Man was with them: I carry'd a Pint of Beer, and some Bread and Cheese, and saw the Prisoner with the Catcher in his Hand. I think this was in April last.

Josiah Beltram . I keep a Barber's Shop, and used to shave the Prisoner; I have known him 2 or 3 Years: He always paid me honestly. - I cannot tell what he does for a Living, - he does what People will employ him about. Guilty . Death .


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