Thomas Wells, Theophilus Watson, Joshua Barnes, Thomas Kirby, Ann Duck, Violent Theft > highway robbery, 17th October 1744.

Reference Number: t17441017-6
Offence: Violent Theft > highway robbery
Verdict: Not Guilty

431, 432, 433, 434, 435. + Thomas Wells , Theophilus Watson , Joshua Barnes , Thomas Kirby , and Ann Duck *, of St. James Clerkenwell , were indicted, (with Ann Collier not yet taken) for assaulting Alexander Forfar on the King's highway, putting him in fear, and taking from him a silk handkerchief, value 2 s. a powder horn, value 18 d. the goods of Alexander Forfar , and a pistol, value 21 s. the goods of Robert Montgomery , September 24 .

*She was tried in January sessions in the Mayoralty of Robert Willimott , Esq; for robbing William Cooper on the highway (near the Fleet-Market) of 35 s. and acquitted. Sce No. II. of the Sessions-Paper, Fol. 47. She was also tried in June sessions in the same Mayoralty, for robbing William Andrews of 11 s. and acquitted. See Sessions-Paper, No. VI. Fol. 185.

Alexander Forfar . I am a Headborough of St. James's Clerkenwell, and keep a publick house . On the 24th of last month between ten and eleven at night, Mr. Blewmire my Constable came to my house, and desired me to go with him to one Field's in Black-Boy-Alley , to take up two disorderly persons. - I don't know their names, there were six of us went together, but could not get entrance. We were afraid to break open the door, for some persons in Field's house held candles out of the window and showed cutlasses to us in order to terrify us, and threw brickbats and glass bottles at us (as I imagine) and other things that they could

find. Then the mob began to rise upon us; there were but three or four of them at first, and one of them in particular came behind me and shoved me, in order to shove me down. I said, Who are you that offers to shove any body here; I took hold of him and said, Let us see who you are. I spoke to the Constable and he took charge of him, but the mob afterwards increased so great, that the Constable was obliged to let him go. - They call him Lippy, he has a hare lip.

Q. Who went with you to Field's?

Forfar. There were Mr. Blewmire , Mr. Montgomery, myself, and three more.

Q. What happened after?

Forfar . After the mob had increased so much and were so outragious, the Constable and his assistants went away, and left only Mr. Montgomery and myself. He was cut down the coat, and went under a shell belonging to the next house to shelter himself; seeing none but him I was willing to get away as well as I could: them one of the fellows presented a musket to me, and said he would shoot me. I said, Take care what you do, for if you miss me I will not miss you; then I pulled out a pistol and presented it at him.

Q. Had you presented your pistol before?

Forfar. I had not, I had it in my breast; when I saw that Mr. Montgomery was attacked, I endeavoured to defend him as well as I could, (and he told me he was hard attacked) but he got into a house and so escaped from them: then seeing all my friends gone, I made the best of my way to Cow-Cross; when I came just by the White-Lion in Clerkenwell, Wells cut me on the top of the head with a cutlass and desperately wounded me.

Q. What did he assault you for?

Forfar. I don't know for what: after Wells had wounded me, the whole mob got about me, knocked me down, cut me in several places, and stabbed me in the shoulder, my coat was cut in several places. I was very saint with the great loss of blood, and was carried home for dead.

Q. Name the persons that assaulted you?

Forfar. That very woman Ann Duck in particular assaulted me, and took my powder horn out of my pocket.

Q. Did any body take the pistol from you?

Forfar. Yes, but I don't know who took it, Wells was one that was about me.

Q. Did Theophilus Watson take any thing from you?

Forfar. No, but he had a hanger, and was one of the company that was cutting and flashing me; they were all together in the robbery.

Q. What did Thomas Kirby do to you?

Forfar. He put his hand into my pocket, but I don't know that he took any thing.

Q. Did he say any thing to you?

Forfar. He seemed angry, and said he was surprized there was nothing in my pockets.

Q. What were the words he said to you?

Forfar. He said he was sorry there was nothing in my pockets.

Q. Did you lose any thing but the powder horn?

Forfar. No, nothing but my blood.

Q. What did Joshua Barnes do?

Forfar. After I was knocked down, Barnes * came and flourished a hanger over my head and said, If you were your Master Blewmire, how I would poke those two eyes of your's out, cut your head off and carry it away in triumph.

Barnes and Kirby are two boy s, seemingly about 12 or 13 years of age.

Prisoner Wells. What time was this done?

Forfar. It was between ten and eleven at night.

Wells What clothes had I on?

Forfar. You had a light coloured coat on.

Q. Do you know any thing of me?

Forfar. Yes, I have known you these fifteen months. - I have seen you at Black Mary's Hole. - I have seen you take in people there at gaming.

Q. Did you ever see me at Black Mary's Hole?

Forfar. Yes, at the little bridge, within twenty or thirty paces of Black Mary's Hole. I have lost 12 s. there myself.

Wells. Will the gentleman take his oath that he has seen me at Black Mary's Hole?

Forfar. I am upon my oath.

Wells. I never was there to the best of my knowledge in my life, and don't know where the place is.

Watson . What clothes had I on?

Forfar. You had the same coat on then you have now and a night cap.

Watson. Had I a hanger?

Forfar. Yes, you had.

Prisoner Duck . What sort of a gown had I on?

Forfar. You had the same, or such an one as you have on now, and you said, Hamstring the dog that he may never run after me again.

Prisoner Barnes . What clothes had I on?

Forfar. That person with the Roman nose [ Barnes ] had the same clothes he has now.

Q. Which of the Prisoners did you know before that time?

Forfar. I knew Thomas Wells and Ann Duck particularly well, and I knew Joshua Barnes , I can't say that I ever saw Kirby before that time.

John Blakeman . Thomas ells and Joshua Barnes, and a great many more people, cut Mr. Forfar in a terrible manner and left him for dead. - Wells cut him in a desperate manner.

Q. What did he cut him with?

Blakeman. With a hanger.

Q. Where was this done?

Blakeman. By the White Lion at Clerkenwell .

Q. Had Joshua Barnes a hanger ?

Blakeman. He had a hanger.

Wells. What night was this done?

Blakeman. On a Monday night.

Wells. What Monday night?

Blakeman. Last Monday was three weeks.

Wells. What day of the month was it?

Blakeman. It was the 24th of September .

Wells. Do you know me?

Blakeman. Yes, you live in Black-Boy-Alley , you come by our door every day, with a gang of gamblers and pickpockets, and such as they call street robbers.

Wells. Did I ever rob you?

Blakeman. No.

Wells. Did you ever know me to rob any body?

Blakeman. No.

Wells. The gentleman says he never knew any harm of me any other than cutting this man. Did you ever see me with a hanger?

Blakeman. Yes, and I have seen you with a hanger at other times, and the handle has come out under your coat.

Wells. I never carried a knife, much less a hanger.

Watson. When I was taken up and carried to Clerkenwell Bridewell, the Prosecutor said he could not swear to one or another, and there being some people that had got money, he would not appear against them. But as we are poor fellows, and have no body to appear for us, he swore against us.

The Prosecutor was asked whether this was true, but he absolutely denied it.

Ann Duck . Ever since last Friday, the Gentleman of Clerkenwell Bridewell lock'd me up, because I would not make myself an Evidence , and I told him I would not make myself an Evidence , because I did not know how; and he said, if I did not make myself an Evidence he would hang me.

Alexander Forfar called again.

Q. Had you any money in your pocket when you were assaulted?

Forfar . I had 4 s. 6 d. in my pocket when I went out of my house, but what became of it I can't tell. For I had several rolls and tumble - I can't say any of them took it from me.

Q. What became of your pistol?

Forfar . It was taken from me, but by whom I can't tell, and my handkerchief, which was tied in two know, was taken off my neck.

The Jury * acquitted the Prisoners, but applied themselves to the Court, and represented, That it was a pity such dangerous persons should slip out of the Hands of Justice, and desired they might be prosecuted in another manner. And the Court ordered them to be detained, that a Bill of Indictment might be laid against them for an assault. Which was accordingly done, except against Ann Duck , who was capitally convicted upon another Indictment.

*When the Prisoners were acquitted, Watson said, I thank you all Gentlemen of the Jury, you have done very right, God is the best judge among us all.

Mr. Boddy, a Constable, at the Mulberry Garden, at Clerkenwell, directing himself to the Court, &c. said, He hoped they would not discharge Wells, for on the Monday after this happened, he and twelve more came to his house with drawn cutlasses in their hands, and pistols cocked, and said, D - n their Eyes and Blood, we will have him out of his house, for we will have his Head, and this Night his Brains shall be broiled in Black-Boy-Alley.


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