Robert Rockett, Violent Theft > highway robbery, Violent Theft > highway robbery, 10th May 1744.

Reference Number: t17440510-25
Offences: Violent Theft > highway robbery; Violent Theft > highway robbery
Verdicts: Guilty
Punishments: Death

273. + Robert Rockett , was indicted (with Walter Neagle , not yet taken) for assaulting Richard Pidgeon on the King's highway , in the Parish of St. Botolph without Aldgate , in the County of Middlesex, putting him in fear, and taking from him a Guinea and 16 d. in money , the property of the said Richard Pidgeon , December 30 .

Richard Pidgeon . On the 30th of December last, a little after nine o'clock at night, I was going home from St. Catharine's into Burr Street, where I live. Just as I came up by the King's Brewhouse, I saw four men stand opposite to me on the other side of the way talking and laughing. When I had got about ten yards from them, I heard somebody come after me. One of them came up to me, catched me by the shoulder, and asked me, what ship I belonged to; I answered, what was that to them. Another came on the right hand side of me, and said I must go to their officer. With that, my Lord, I told them, if they behaved like Gentlemen, and did not pull and hall me along. I would go with them. I had not walked above two or three steps before their officers (as they called them) came up to me, and one of them put a pistol to my mouth. and shoved me up against a palisado. When he had shoved me up against the rail, another came with another pistol, and they put one to each corner of my mouth, and said I must not speak, if I did they would shoot me. Then two of them came before me, and put their hands into my pockets, and I lost a guinea, a shilling, and some half pence. They asked me for my watch; I told them, I did not carry a watch. There was a little girl came out, who took me for her father, and cried out, oh lah, oh lah, what do you do to my father? I don't know what I should have done if it had not been for the child: one of them put a pistol to the child, which put me under more concern than I was under for myself.

Q. Did you know any of these people?

Pidgeon. When this Sherlock came up to me, I knew something of his face, but I cannot positively swear to Sherlock.

Q. Can you take upon you to say that the prisoner was one of the four?

Pidgeon. I cannot positively swear to him.

Q. Do you know the Prisoner?

Pidgeon. I believe he was one of the four.

Q. Can you say from what you saw at that time that the Prisoner was one of the persons?

Pidgeon. He was in a different dress then, that I cannot be certain; they were very well dressed persons, and very nimble men.

Francis Sherlock . On Friday the 30th of December, the Prisoner at the bar, Charles * Cleaver , and Walter Neagle being drinking at a publick house in St. John's Square, the Prisoner at the bar and Cleaver sent Neagle to my house in Jerusalem Court, to tell me they wanted to speak with me. When I came they asked me if I had a mind to get a peny in an honest way. Said I, Don't think I am a coward, I'll go any where with you; so we concluded to go to meet with the first Chance we could - all four of us; we paid our reckoning, and went to a publick house in Bishopsgate Street, and there we had

four pots of hot flip; from thence we went to White Chapel road, expecting to meet some coaches coming up, but happened to meet none (it was prodigious cold.) Then we stepped into Stepney Fields, expecting to meet somebody there, and we saw a boy with a link at a distance, and somebody with him. Expecting a prize, we all run, and I fell down and made my nose bleed, but we found it was only a joiner's boy with his hammer stuck in his apron. Then we concluded to go to the Round-about tavern in Wapping, to see if we could find any of the Captains of the Colliers, because it is used by them. We walked about for an hour, and met never a soul: then we went farther, and called at one Harry Inkester 's, where we had a rendezvous; then we came up to St. Catharine's, and by the King's Brewhouse we met Capt. Pidgeon.

* He was tried in February Sessions upon two indictments, one for robbing Mr. Pidgeon, and the other for robbing Mr. Abraham Constable , in company with Rocket, Neagle, and Sherlock; and is now under sentence of Death. See Trials 174, 155.

In the names of the London Jury in the first part, for Duporty read Duborty.

Q. What did you do to him?

Sherlock. Neagle and the prisoner at the bar were standing at a Distiller's shop, and Captain Pidgeon passed us; the Prisoner and Walter Neagle stopped him and brought him to us; Cleaver stepped a little nearer, I believe, and they robbed him of shilling and some halfpence: Neagle clapped a pistol to his mouth, to keep him from crying out - The Prisoner had the money; I saw but a shilling and fivepence halfpeny.

Q. Did he tell you who he took it from?

Sherlock. He could not tell the man's name, he said he took it from the person he had stopped; the prisoner came up to us with a great oath, and said, I have robbed him; but he did not say at first what he took from him.

Q. Had the Prisoner ever a pistol?

Sherlock. Upon my word, I cannot tell; for I don't remember that we had above one pistol between us four; there was but one pistol, and that Neagle had.

Q. So he said he had got a shilling and fivepence halfpeny?

Sherlock. No, he said he had got some money; and when we came to the night-house in Newgate Market, he said he had got a shilling and fivepence halfpeny. - It was about ten o'clock when we got there.

Q. How do you know it was Capt. Pidgeon that you robbed?

Sherlock. I knew him in Holland, when he was Captain of a ship, and I was Mate of a merchant-man.

Q. What time did you meet Capt. Pidgeon ?

Sherlock. I believe it was a little after nine; but it was almost ten when we came to the Night-house; and we spent the money there.

Prisoner. He said I shewed him a shilling and fivepence halfpeny, and then he said, they did not know what money I had got.

Sherlock. I said, they did not know what money he had till he came to the night-house.

Q. Did you see Sherlock there?

Pidgeon. I had some knowledge of him, but I knew him when I was sent for the Wednesday following by Justice Willoughby to the Tower Goal.

Q. How came Mr. Willoughby to send for you to the Tower Goal ?

Pidgeon. He sent for me to acquaint me that a person was taken up the night before, and denied me to come and see whether I knew him; I went to the Tower Goal, and pitched upon him immediately, though I believe there were twenty people in the room.

Q. Did you know him at the time that you was robbed?

Pidgeon. I knew him so well that I should remember him whenever I saw him again.

Q. Where had you been then?

Pidgeon. I had been to see a Lady home not above 100 yards from the place where they robbed me, and was returning back again.

Q. Then you cannot say the Prisoner was one of them that robbed you?

Pidgeon. I would not say so for the world - I believe he was one of them - They were all genteelly dressed, with ruffles, like Gentlemen; they were as well dressed as most people.

Prisoner. I met Sherlock by Inkester's door. Said he, How do you do? I said I was glad to see him, and would drink with him, and I said. I design to go to sea to-morrow, so we went into Mr. Inkester's, and I took my leave of him there; that is all I know of the matter.

Q. I think you say the first place you met the Prisoner at was in St. John's Square, not at Inkester's ?

Sherlock. It was in St. John's Square, and we went from thence to the Round-about tavern.

Q. Where is Inkester's house?

Sherlock. 'Tis at the Golden Lion by Wapping New Stairs.

Henry Inkester sworn.

Q. Did you see the Prisoner on the 30th of December ?

Inkester. I cannot tell the day of the month, because I did not take any particular notice of it; in a publick house we cannot tell what day of the month people come in.

Q. Did you see Sherlock and the Prisoner at your house in December after Christmas.

Inkester. The Prisoner owed me a little money; he was a Gentleman's son, and had lodged at my house, and always paid me very honestly; the latter end of December he came to my house and told me he was going to sea the next morning: I cannot tell whether he went or not.

Q. Was Sherlock there?

Inkester. Yes.

Q. Did they come into your house together?

Inkester. Yes.

Q. Did they go away together?

Inkester. Yes. I believe they did, I don't take much notice of these things; I leave such things to my wife and my servants - To the best of my knowledge they went away together.

Q. When they were going from your house, did they seem as if they were going in company, or did they take leave of one another and part?

Inkester. I believe they went away together; the Prisoner came to tell me he was going to sea; there was nothing of value between us to signify much; but it shewed an honest part, that he came to tell me he was going to sea.

Q. Were there any more in company?

Inkester. Yes, I believe there were two more.

Q. Do you know one Neagle?

Inkester. Upon my word, I don't know the man, neither do I know that ever I saw him.

Q. Do you know one Cleaver?

Inkester. Upon my word, there are a great many people come to our house that I don't know.

Q. Do you know two people that go by those names?

Inkester. I do not know them.

Q. You say, there were two men in company, besides the Prisoner and Sherlock?

Inkester. They were in the room, I don't know that they belonged to them.

Q. Have you any thing more to say?

Inkester. That is what I have to say; the Prisoner has lodged four or five years in my house, and paid me very honestly; and I believe there is no body that knows any thing to his discredit, or to his dishonesty; and I think it was the part of an honest man, to come to tell me he was going to sea.

Q. Have you any thing more to say?

Inkester. I have something more to say; his father is a merchant at Edinburgh; he has drawn upon his father for money, and he has sent bills to me for 20 l. 10 l. and 7 l. and they have been always very well paid by merchants in London; he was then Chief Mate of the Neptune, and was company for any Gentleman: I suppose you know Capt. Harris, who was one of the regulating Captains; the Prisoner was his Chief Mate, and kept his rendezvous at my house, and lodged there.

Prisoner. Sometimes I have had letters of credit from Edinburgh, and they were commonly sent to his house, and they were very honestly paid; as to what Sherlock says, I know nothing of the matter.

Jury. How was Sherlock dressed when he came that night?

Inkester. To the best of my knowledge, with a shag coat, and a waistcoat trimmed with silver

Q. Did he usually go so?

Inkester. He used to go very well.

Q. Had he any ruffles on?

Inkester. Upon my word I cannot tell.

Q. to Capt. Pidgeon. Did you see any of the persons that came upon you with a waistcoat trimmed with silver?

Pidgeon. I cannot be positive to that, they were very handsomly dressed; it was cold weather, and their coats were buttoned up.


James Sparkes . I have known the Prisoner six or seven years.

Q. What character does he bear?

Sparkes. I think he deserves no character but an honest one, and I never saw any otherwise by him. I have used that rendezvous before and after; I always paid my men at this Inkester's house, on a Saturday night, and I never saw any thing by him but what was sober and modest; he was not given to cursing and swearing, as some sailors are, and that made me take more notice of him; if you have a mind to call any body to my character, you will judge whether I speak truth or no - I am an anchor Smith.

Jane Inkester . I know the Prisoner very well.

Q. Do you remember his coming to your house with Sherlock and two more in the month of December ?

Inkester. Yes, very well.

Q. What day of the month was it?

Inkester. I cannot tell whether it was the 29th or 30th; they came in brushing, as a great many gentlemen are apt to do; there were some of the Sandwich gang there; I told them, there was a press-gang in the house. Sherlock said, I don't mind that, for I belong to a gang myself; Sherlock threw open his coat, and there were two pistols and a hanger. When they were going, I asked who was to pay me; and Sherlock said to my husband, D - n you, you owe me money. I wanted to

know how that was. Said I, Does my husband owe you any money? No, said Mr. Rockett, we owe him money. I went to see how the score was, and there was only two pots of beer; when Sherlock was taken up, I said to him, I am sorry for you, I hope you have not brought Rockett into this scrape; and Sherlock said, I am forced to do this to safe my life.

Q. Did you see Sherlock at your house two days together?

Inkester. No - It was either the 29th or 30th of December; it was one of the days.

Jury to Henry Inkester . Did you see whether these people had any pistols?

Inkester. I can't tell any otherwise than my wife told me?

Q. Did your wife tell you of it before they went out of the house, or after they were gone?

Inkester. She told me Sherlock opened his coat, and that he had a couple of pistols, and I think a hanger by his side.

Q. Did she tell you of it that night or afterwards?

Inkester. I believe it was before I went to bed?

Jury. I desire to know what time you go to bed.

Inkester. That is an uncertainty.

Q. What time o'night did they go from your house?

Inkester. To the best of my knowledge, it was between eight and nine o'clock.

Jury. How far is your house from Burr Street ?

Inkester. I live within two doors of Wapping New Stairs; I don't know how far it is.

Jane Inkester . It is about a quarter of a mile. Guilty , Death .

He was a second time indicted, for assaulting Mr Abraham Constable in an open place near the King's highway, called Brewhouse Yard, in the parish of St. John Wapping , putting him in fear, and taking from him a pen-knife, value 6 d. a cork-skrew, value 1 d. and 10 s. in money , Jan. 3 . but as he was convicted upon the former indictment, he was not tried upon this.

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