Charles Cleaver, Violent Theft > highway robbery, 23rd February 1744.

Reference Number: t17440223-15
Offence: Violent Theft > highway robbery
Verdict: Guilty
Punishment: Death

+ 154. Charles Cleaver , of St. John Wapping , was indicted for assaulting Abraham Constable , in a certain open place, called Brewhouse-Yard , near the King's Highway, putting him in fear, and there taking from him an iron cork-skrew, value 1 d. a pen-knife, value 6 d. and 10 s. in money , the property of the said Abraham Constable , Jan. 3.

Abraham Constable . On the 3d day of Jan. being Tuesday, about ten o'clock at night, as I was coming from the Ship-Tavern at the Hermitage to my house in Burr-street (I had a person with me with a candle and lanthorn) passing through Brewhouse-Yard, I was overtaken, or rather run after, by four lusty young fellows, who bid the person that carried the lanthorn put out the light (they run after me so great a pace, that I thought at first it had been a press-gang, and stood up to let them pass by) the man not being so ready to put the light out as they would have had him, or not readily finding the door of the lanthorn, one of them knocked the man down, and the lanthorn fell and broke all to pieces; one stood before me, and the other two stood one on each side of me; and I think they had pistols; but as it was dark, the light being out then, I could not see whether they had pistols or not; they rifled my breeches, and took from me ten shillings, a pen-knife, and a tobacco-stopper and cork-skrew; they detained me near two minutes,- and I thought they would have used me with more roughness; for they demanded a watch of me, and searched me very narrowly for a watch, but I had none; they then bid me go the way I came, and said, if I offered to follow them, they would blow my brains out; upon that, I returned to the tavern from whence I came, and was very much frightened; the next day I heard there was a person taken on Tower-Hill the same night that I was robbed; and was sent for by Justice Dennet, who then had Francis Sherlock before him under examination, to look at the person, to see to see if I knew him to be one of the persons that robbed me.

Q. How came you to be sent for?

Constable. A man was brought before Justice Dennet, for knocking down a Gentleman on Tower-Hill, and the Justice, hearing that I had been robbed, sent for me to know whether he was one of the persons that robbed me; when I came there, I had great reason to believe, that he was one of them; but as it was so dark when I was robbed, I could not be sure.

Q. What was the name of that person?

Constable. His name is Sherlock; when I was with him, I thought there was more in his voice to know him by than there was in the sight of him; for the candle in the lanthorn was so soon put out, that I had not time to get a full view of them; but Sherlock confessed the fact before the

Justice, and impeached the other three, of whom the Prisoner at the bar was one.

Q. Did not you take them up upon this?

Constable. Sherlock was sent to New Prison, and great search was made after the other three; but we have heard they were sent out of town, went from place to place, and have got on board the privateers, so that they are not to be found. The Prisoner was taken three or four days ago in St. John's Street; I observed so much of them, that they were all well dressed, genteel, young fellows; the Prisoner was in much the same dress as he is now.

Q. What makes you think the Prisoner was one of the persons?

Constable. He seems to be about the same size; they were young, and active; but he has no particular mark that I can swear to him by.

Francis Sherlock sworn.

Q. Do you know any thing of the former witness, Mr. Constable?

Sherlock. Yes.

Q. Had the Prisoner at the bar any concern in attacking, and robbing him?

Sherlock. On Monday night, the second or third of January, I cannot tell which.

Constable. It was Tuesday in the evening.

Sherlock. I may be mistaken as to the day.

Q. Who were with you when you committed that robbery?

Sherlock. There were Robert Rocket , Walter Neagle , and Charles Cleaver .

Q. Where was Mr. Constable, when you pursued him?

Sherlock. He was coming along Brewhouse-yard, at the upper end of new Hermitage Street.

Q. Who went up to him first?

Sherlock. Rocket was the first that overtook him.

Q. Who was it that knocked the man down that had the lanthorn?

Sherlock. It was myself, I did not knock him down, I shoved him down.

Q. Was the Prisoner at the bar with you at that time?

Sherlock. Yes, Neagle was before him, Rocket at his right-hand, and Cleaver at his left; and I had hold of the man at the same time.

Q. Who rifled him?

Sherlock. Cleaver and Rocket.

Q. What did they take from him?

Sherlock. There were twelve shillings divided between us, the money all in six-pences, but two shillings; a little pen-knife, and a tobacco-stopper and cork-screw in one; Neagle had them.

Q. What time o'night was this?

Sherlock. About nine or ten o'clock.

Q. Where did you go afterwards?

Sherlock. I was stopped by a gentleman on Tower-Hill; but we went into the Minories first, and divided the money, and we gave Cleaver a shilling to take the hanger out of pledge.

Q. How came you to be stopped on Tower-Hill?

Sherlock. As we were going over Tower-Hill, Neagle stepped out of the road, and knocked a gentleman down.

Q. Did you all four go there?

Sherlock. We all four went together, and coming over Tower-Hill, Neagle and Rocket quarrelled, because Neagle said, they (Rocket and Cleaver) had got some gold from Mr. Constable, and he was going to fight them with a pistol; going up the hill, a gentleman ++ was coming along with a cloak on, muffled up, (for it was a cold night) Neagle struck him; I said, You rascal, what do you strike the gentleman for? he did not meddle with you: and I believe he was a little stunned; then they three run away; and I did not think he knew any thing of our being concerned in the other affair, or else I could have made my escape too, but I took his part, because no harm should come to him, and I was taken and carried to the watch-house.

++ Mr. Willoughby was knocked down on Tower-Hill, so 'tis probable it was him; but the witness did not mention any name.

Q. How long had the Prisoner and you been acquainted?

Sherlock. About two years; but I never went with him or them upon such an account before that night +.

+ He was concerned with them in robbing Mr. Pidgeon, 30th of December, by his own evidence, as appears by the next Trial.

Prisoner. What place did we set out from that night?

Sherlock. We set out from Michael Gore 's, in Charles Street, Covent Garden, where we had been drinking of beer.

Prisoner. Was this the first robbery you committed?

Sherlock. No, the first robbery was that of Mr. Pidgeon in St. Catherine's.

Cleaver. Could you go down to St. Catharine's without danger of being pressed?

Sherlock. We did go to St. Catharine's, and were waiting to rob one Esquire Wynn; but missing of him, we met with Mr. Constable in the mean time.

Prisoner. It is true indeed I did go out that night with that gentleman the evidence, and he said he was going to a public house to Mr. Wynn, to borrow a little money of him; and he said he was sure of getting some liquor, if he did not get some money; and we met at this Rocket's house, and set out about six o'clock that night. He asked me to go down with him to St. Catharine's, for he did not care to go without company, for fear of being pressed. At last he prevailed upon me to go with him, and I did go. I went to see an acquaintance of mine in St. Catharine's, and staid with her till ten o'clock, and happened to meet these three persons: I asked them how they did, and where they had been, but they did not care to tell in particular where. We went into the Minories to drink, and when we came into the house, Rocket pulled out some money, and so did Neagle; I think it was about three shillings apiece.

Q. Had you no part of it?

Prisoner. I had not a farthing, only a shilling to get the hanger out of pawn; and Neagle said to me, if I would go to his lodging, at the Fountain and Shovel in Thames Street, he would make me drink; and he said, I can tell you what passed at Tower-Hill, for I was present with them: I did not think I should have been tried, till the person who they say is taken, is brought to London; or I should have been able to have made a better defence. Guilty Death .


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