Martha Stracey, Violent Theft > highway robbery, 16th January 1745.

Reference Number: t17450116-6
Offence: Violent Theft > highway robbery
Verdict: Guilty
Punishment: Death

131. + Martha Stracey , was indicted for assaulting William Humphreys on the highway, puting him in fear, and taking from him one guinea , December 23d .

William Humphreys . About 20 minutes after 12 o' clock, between the 22d and 23d of December as I was going along the Strand , by Northumberland house , the prisoner met me, and said, where are you going, my dear; I said, what is that to you, you bitch. Then a man came either behind me or on one side of me, and laid hold of my collar; as soon as I found that, I struck at him, then another man came up and they pulled me down backward upon a step, held me by the throat, and asked me what business I had to call the woman bitch. Then the prisoner unbuttoned my breeches, and turned every pocket the wrong side out, and took a guinea out of my right fob. But there was one six-pence left, which happened to stick in the corner of one of my pockets. As she was unbuttoning my breeches, I took hold of her by the coat with my right hand.

Q. Did the men offer to hold your hands?

Humphreys. No, they left my hands at liberty.

Q. What did you do after you got hold of her coat?

Humphreys. Then I rose up.

Q. How long was she doing this?

Humphreys. I believe she was about a minute, she was very dextrous. Then the men went off, and one of them struck at me with a stick about two foot and a half long. When I got up, I took her by the hand and she called for assistance. Then one of the men came and struck at me. I struck at him, and brought him down - I had hold of the prisoner all the time. While I was down upon my back, she said, d - n him, kill him, he squeaks. Then Thomas Ind and Benjamin Meadows came to my assistance, and the men got off.

Q. Was it a dark night?

Humphreys. Yes.

Q. Are you sure that the Prisoner's hand was in your pocket?

Humphreys. Yes; because no body was by but the Prisoner and the two men, and I am sure neither of their hands were in my pocket, and I kept hold of her all the time till we got her to the watch-house; she would not speak one word before the Justice.

Q. Where did you receive that guinea?

Humphreys. Mr. Mildmay in Strutton Street paid it me about four hours before for carrying him.

Prisoner. I was by myself: was there any men along with me?

Humphreys. I did not see any man till after you had laid hold of me.

Prisoner. He asked me to drink, and said, he would give me a shilling to have some conversation with me: I said, I did not come out upon that account, but he persuaded me, and gave me the guinea instead of a shilling, or else I should hardly have kept it in my pocket till next morning.

Humphreys. I did not say any thing to her but what I mentioned before - I did not give her the guinea, I never offered her any money, or promised her any.

Prisoner. Was not you in liquor?

Humphreys. I was as sober then as ever I was in my life.

Prisoner. He pulled me into an alley, and wanted to be concerned with me.

Humphreys. I did not pull her into any alley.

William Dunn . I was constable of the night, about one o'clock in the morning the Prosecutor brought the Prisoner into St. Martin's watch-house, and told me as he has said now, that she had robbed him by the assistance of two men of a guinea; that he had never let her go from him, and was sure she must have it about her. I searched her, took 2 s. and some half pence out of her pocket; I said to Ind search her behind and before (I ask pardon, my Lord) he has got a pretty good hand at searching; he searched her, and took the guinea out of her mouth; I was the more ready to have her searched, because the man was very positive and very sober. I took her aside, and desired her to give an account of her two accomplices, by which the might probably save her own life; instead of giving any direct answer to that, I think, to the best of my knowledge, she said, whether I had any assistance or not, I will make no confession: then she pulled me back, whispered me in the ear, (I thought she had changed her mind, and would have discovered her accomplices) and said, Mr. Constable, I know it is in your power to leave the watch-house door open, and let me go out, if you will, you shall have a - whenever you please.

Thomas Ind . I belong to the house of correction at Tothill Fields Bridewell. On the 22d of December about nine o'clock at night I went to the goal with some prisoners, and said till near twelve. I was going home into Covent Garden, and just by the Bagnio at Charing Cross I heard an outcry, I thought there had been some quarrel; I saw Humphreys with the Prisoner in his right hand; he told me he was robbed by the Prisoner and two men, and desired me to go with him to the watch-house; when I came there, Mr. Dunn thought I was a proper person, and desired me to search her. I pulled off her stockings, searched all her clothes, and found 2 s. 4 d. and a bag of tobacco; then I searched her arm pits, and every where that I could, but could not find the guinea; then I said, D - n you open your mouth; she opened it, and turned out her tongue double; I put my finger into her mouth, and brought the guinea out: she said something afterwards in a vulgar manner, but I could not tell what it was.

Prisoner. He is a runner at goals, and gets his living that way; he said he would hang me.

Ind. I never said any such thing, nor was I ever concerned in any goal till a little before Michaelmas.

Paul Broadbent ( the Beadle ) I held the candle while Ind searched her, and at last he brought the guinea out of her mouth. I said she had better confess who were her accomplices; she said, if she was hanged herself, she would not bring in any other person to be hanged.

Benj Meadows . I was going home between tweleve and one, and when I was against the Mewsgate, I heard watch cried out; I did not mind it at first, and walked softly on; when I came against my own door, I saw Humphreys have hold of the Prisoner by the hand; when I came up he was surrounded by several people; some said let her go, others said do not let her go; I heard Humphreys speak, and knew his voice: said I, Humphreys, is it you? he said, yes; and told me he was robbed of a guinea: said I, if you are robbed, do not let her go. We carried her to the watch-house, Mr. Ind searched her all over, and could not find it, but at last he pulled the guinea out of her mouth - I have known the Prisoner some years.

Jury to Dunn. Do you believe the Prosecutor was down upon his back, for it was very dirty weather then, and his clothes must be dirty?

Dunn. I did not enquire into that, but I believe by the terror and fright he seemed to be in that the thing was true, and that made me get the best hand in the watch-house to search her. Guilty , Death .


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