John Stevens, Violent Theft > highway robbery, 28th August 1741.

Reference Number: t17410828-3
Offence: Violent Theft > highway robbery
Verdict: Guilty
Punishment: Death

3. John Stevens, alias * Henry Cooke , of Stoke-Newington , was indicted for assaulting John Zachary on the king's highway, putting him in fear, &c. and taking from him a gold watch, val. 12 l. a gelding of a sorrel colour, val. 10 l. a saddle, val. 20 s. a bridle, val. 3 s. a whip, val. 6 s. a pair of gloves, val. 2 d. and 2 guineas, the goods and money of the said John Zachary , July 17th .

* See Sessions book, 1740. No 8. Part 2 d.

The Prisoner being arraign'd stood mute; the reason of which being demanded by the court, he reply'd, that a considerable sum of money had been taken from by the constable who apprehended him, and unless that was restor'd to him, he was determin'd not to plead. The court then order'd a clause

in an act of parliament to be read to him, wherein it is ordain'd, that monies or other effects found upon persons charg'd with highway robberies, shall on the parties conviction, be divided among the persons concern'd in apprehending them; and in case of an acquittal, those effects shall be again restor'd to the parties.

Notwithstanding this the Prisoner still continued obstinate, and the court then inform'd him what would be the consequence of persisting in such a resolution; but he still appearing unconcern'd, the following sentence was read to him:

That he be sent back to the prison whence he came, and there laid in a dark, mean room stopp'd from the light, his back on the bare ground, and nothing upon him save something to cover his nakedness. That his arm shall be stretch'd with a cord soften'd to one corner of the room, and his leg to another, and his other arm and leg shall be serv'd in the same manner. Then shall be laid on his body iron and stone as much as he can bear and more.

The next day he shall have 3 morsels of barley bread without drink, and the day after he shall drink as much of the water next the prison door, except it be running water, as he can drink at three several times; and this shall be his diet till he die.

After this the necessary orders were given, and the executioner sent for to perform the usual office of tying the Prisoner's thumbs before the execution of the sentence; but before that was proceeded upon, the Prisoner pleaded not guilty, and the following evidence was given.

Mr. Zachary. On friday the 17th of July last, about 6 o'clock in the evening, I was returning on horseback from Edmonton to London, and to avoid the dust, I took to the lanes, and did not come the great road. At Palmer's Green I first observ'd the Prisoner behind me on a little horse. He was meanly drest, and I took very little notice of him. I was by my self, and he kept following me for near three miles, 'till he came to the new sluice at Newington , and at the bottom of the hill, he ask'd me whether that road went to Islington? I told him, yes; that Newington church was before, and that Islington was a quarter of a mile farther. Upon that immediately his horse's head was close to mine, and with oaths and imprecations he threaten'd my life; at the same time producing a pistol in his right hand, which he held directly to me, and swore he would shoot me dead. I ask'd him what he wanted, and he still threaten'd my life, and took hold of my horse's bridle, and put the pistol to my breast. I ask'd him a second time what he wanted, and he then said he knew I had a charge of money about me, and was determin'd to have it. I was very much surpriz'd to see his pistol in so dangerous a position, for his hand trembled so much, that unless he dropp'd his pistol, he could not avoid drawing the trigger. Upon this I told him I would deliver if he would drop his pistol and behave well: He then did drop his pistol, and said he would behave as a gentleman. I then deliver'd him two guineas and a gold watch, and ask'd him if he wanted any thing farther with me; and he said, I must alight, for he knew I had more money about me. I was unwilling to do that till he gave me his promise that he would not use me ill; and then I did alight, and each of us had our horses bridles in our hands. He then search'd me for more money, but found none, for I had a little silver that he did not take notice of. After all this had pass'd, I ask'd him whether he had done with me: He reply'd he had not, for he must have my horse and whip, and accordingly he did take them, and left me his own horse and a little switch whip in the stead.

Q. What was your horse worth?

Mr. Zachary. I gave 15 guineas for it but a little before, and my whip I paid 17 s. for. He likewise took from me a pair of gloves, which were found upon him when he was taken.

Q. Which way did he go then?

Mr. Zachary. He took my horse which was saddled and bridled, about 20 yards from me, and then mounted and rode off towards Palmer's Green. I advertis'd my horse the next day, and in about ten days after that, the Prisoner was taken, and I had it again by his directions.

Q. What did the Prisoner say to you?

Mr. Zachary. When he was taken I saw him at Justice Chandler's, and I went to him in Newgate two days afterwards, and then he told me my horse was at Mimms Wash. Pursuant to this direction I went out that night at 9 o'clock, and found my horse, saddle, bridle and whip in a stable there, and they were deliver'd to me.

Q. Have you got your watch again?

Mr. Zachary. I heard that the Prisoner was at Justice Chandler's and I went to him. This watch was then produced, and I knew it to be mine.

Q. Are you sure the Prisoner is the man?

Mr. Zachary. Yes, I am positive he is the person.

Pris. Did I ever say any thing to you where your horse was?

Mr. Zachary. He confess'd it to persons that came directly to me.

Pris. You ought to have had those persons here then.

Martha Underwood . I know the Prisoner very well. On tuesday morning the 28th of July, I saw him a little beyond Bow-Church in Cheapside, and followed him to Mr. Taylor's at Norton-Falgate, where he was taken.

Q. How came you to follow him?

Underwood. I had not heard of this robbery; but the people said he was the person that murder'd

Mr. Cruiashanks. He was taken at Mr. Taylor's at Norton-Falgate, and from thence was carried before Justice Chandler. I was present, and saw 5 watches, 9 guineas and an half in gold, and 46 s. 6 d. in silver found upon him.

Q. Did he say where he had those watches?

Underwood. No, Sir. - I can say nothing as to this gentleman's watch, but I saw 5 taken out of his pocket in a snuff colour'd handkerchief.

John Haines Constable. On tuesday morning the 28th of July, I took the Prisoner on that woman's (Underwood's) information, and when he was before the justice, I found this and 4 other watches upon him.

Mr. Zachary. This is my watch; I know it by the mark and number, M. Storr 3321.

Haines. I took the money from him myself, and likewise these gloves.

Mr. Zachary. These gloves fit me, and as much as any body can swear to a pair of gloves, I swear to these.

Haines. Here are some pieces of silver which I took out of one of his pockets.

Mr. Zachary. This silver is the button to my whip, and it exactly answers to what I advertised.

Tho Rogers . I am beadle of Shoreditch parish, and the constable sent for me to bring hand-cuffs for the Prisoner, and I went to Justice Chandler's but did not see him search'd. When the Prisoner was before the Justice, he denied that his name was Cooke, and said that he came from Bromley, and never saw Stratford: upon which the Justice order'd me to go down to Stratford to enquire, and I brought up some of the inhabitants to prove him to be the man; and one of them shook hands with him, but the Prisoner swore he would not shake hands with them, nor would not own them. Mr. Haines sent for me to assist him, and the Prisoner told us he was a gentleman born, and desired to be used as such, upon which we indulg'd him with a coach, and carried him to Justice Chandler's, and then I saw Haines produce the watches.

Pris. I have no body here to speak for me, but must rely on the favour of the court. Mr. Zachary advertis'd the man who robb'd him to be 5 feet 3 inches high, and pock holes in his face, and I am not like the person, for I am 5 feet 7 inches and an half. As to the watches I bought them, and if I had time I would produce the persons whom I bought them of. I came from Birmingham in Warwickshire, and buy and sell watches, and if I had had time I would have made a better defence, but now I must leave it to the mercy of the court. Guilty Death .


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