Thomas Birch, Violent Theft > highway robbery, 25th February 1741.

Reference Number: t17410225-23
Offence: Violent Theft > highway robbery
Verdict: Guilty
Punishment: Death

29. Thomas Birch , of Paddington , was indicted for assaulting Peter Butler , in a certain Field and open Place, near the King's Highway, putting him in Fear and taking from him a Fowling Piece, val. 10 s. the Property of William Price and a Hat, val. 2 s. the Goods of Peter Butler '. November 28.

John Jay . On Friday the 28th of November, Peter Butler was employed to watch some Sheep, and hearing the next Day, that he had been very much beat and wounded, I went into the Grounds and saw the Skins of 2 Sheep, which I knew to be the Property of Zachary Brown .

Peter Butler . I was in Mr. Jay's Fields, a little before Christmas, about 9 at Night watching the Sheep, and I saw 4 Men come into the Field. They presently catch'd hold of a Sheep, and I thought to make the best of my way Home to alarm the Town, but one of them said, G - D - my B - d let us go and see if any Body is under this Hedge; so when I found I could not escape, I turn'd about and cock'd my Gun at them, but it miss'd Fire, then they came upon me, and ask'd me if I would shoot them; I said, I would if I could; upon that they laid on me, and cut me on the Head; then they tied my Hands behind me and threw me into a water Furrow. About a Quarter after 11 they left me, and one of them return'd to me, and swore if I made any Noise they would knock my Brains out. It was with the greatest Difficulty that I kept my Head out of the Water; I bled all the Time like a Pig, and desir'd the Prisoner who took away my Gun, to put my Cap on my Head for I was almost Dead.

Prisoner. Was it not Dark when you was Attack'd in this Manner?

Butler. It was dark when they Men came first into the Field, but the Moon rose before they left me, and it was as light as Day. The Prisoner was close to me all the Time, and when I was on the Ground he kneeled down to me, and said, What a Fool you was to offer to shoot us.

Prisoner. What did I say when you asked me to put on your Cap.

Butler. You swore bitterly if I spoke another Word, you would knock my Brains out. I lost

my Hat, but I can't say he took it; they turned my Pockets the inside outward, but I had nothing4 but a Halfpennyworth of Tobacco, and they took it from me. I am positive the Prisoner was one of them, for he was close to me all the Time.

Prisoner. I never saw this Fellow before he came to the Barracks and took me.

Mr. Jay. I had an Information of some Soldiers at the Tower, and went with Butler to see them, but he would not swear to any of them. I had likewise an Information of some Men at the Savoy, and Butler pitch'd on the Prisoner as he stood Centry, and said, that was the Man that stood over him for 2 Hours, and took the Gun from him. Butler was so positive to the Prisoner, that he would have laid hold of him directly, but I went to inform the Serjeant of it, and before we returned, the Prisoner was gone off the Guard.

Prisoner. I am as innocent as the Child that is unborn

James Tailor , Serjeant. The Prisoner has been in the Coldstream Regiment some Years, and always did his Duty as a Soldier.

Jury. We desire Butler may be ask'd, whether he is sure, that the Prisoner took his Gun?

Butler. I am positive to him, for he stood over me at the Time, and took the Gun from me as soon as I was tied.

Guilty Death .


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