John Short, George Thomas, Violent Theft > highway robbery, Violent Theft > highway robbery, 2nd July 1746.

Reference Number: t17460702-22
Offences: Violent Theft > highway robbery; Violent Theft > highway robbery
Verdicts: Guilty; Guilty
Punishments: Death; Death

266, 267. John Short and George Thomas were indicted for that they on the 26th of April , in a certain Field and open Place near the King's Highway, did make Assault upon John Biles , putting him in fear and danger of his Life, and did feloniously steal one Silver Lac'd Hat, one Pair of Silver Knee-Buckles, a Pair of Leather Breeches, a Pair of white Cotton Stockings, two Linnen Handkerchiefs, four Cambrick Stocks, and a Silver Clasp , the Property of the said John Biles .

Q. (to John Biles .) What have you to say against the Prisoners?

Biles. Three Men met me between Nine and Ten o'Clock at Night, the 26th of April last.

Q. Whereabouts?

Biles. In a Field between Mother Red-Caps and Tottenham-Court .

Q. What past between these three Persons and you?

Biles. They demanded my Money, and I told them I had none; they clapt three Pistols to my Head, and said, if I spoke another Word they would blow my Brains out.

Q. What did they do?

Biles. Then they took my Silver Buckles out of my Shoes.

Q. Did they throw you down?

Biles. They never struck me, I stood all the Time; they took out one of my Knee-Buckles, and the other they made me take out myself.

Q. What were these Buckles made of?

Biles. Silver.

Q. Did they take any thing else?

Biles. Yes, a Silver Lac'd Hat, and a Pair of Leather Breeches.

Q. Was these Breeches on?

Biles. They were on my Body, and they made me take them off and give to them.

Q. What else?

Biles. Four Cambrick Stocks, a Silver Clasp, a Pair of white Cotton Stocking, two Linnen Handkerchiefs.

Q. When they had taken all these Things from you, what did they do?

Biles. They bid me go about my Business.

Court. Is that all? You say there were three Persons that did this Injury to you; do you know any Thing of them?

Biles. No, I can't say I know them, it was a dark Night.

Court. So, this is all you can say in relation to this Fact?

Biles. Yes, this is all; who committed it I cannot tell.

Q. Have you had any of your Things?

Biles. No, none of the Things.

Q. When these People robb'd you, what Way did they go?

Biles. I went home to my Master's towards London; I left them in the Place, I did not look back .

Q. Could you judge of the Stature of these People ?

Biles. It was such a dark and foggy Night, that I can't say any thing of the Persons.

Q. (to the Prisoners.) Would you ask any Questions of this John Biles ?

Prisoner. My Lord, I would desire to know what Time it was.

Court. He says between Nine and Ten o'Clock.

Prisoner. At that present Time I was in the Tower, my Lord.

Q. (to Biles) Can you remember what Clothes they had on ?

Biles. I can't remember the Clothes, my Lord.

Q. Was it so dark that you could not discern.

Biles. I think they were darkish Clothes, not red, my Lord, to the best of my thinking.

Q. (to Thomas West .) Do you know any thing where with the Prisoners are now charg'd, of the Robbery of John Biles ? Do you know any Circumstance you ought to disclose to the Court on this Occasion?

West. I know nothing, but only that William Bray cam e to deliver himself up to me to be an Evidence against these People.

Q. What are you?

West. I am High Constable of the Parish of St. Martin in the Fields.

Court. He came to deliver himself to you; on what Day or Hour was it?

West. It was on a Monday, I believe the 25th of May .

Q. Had you any Warrant at that Time?

West. My Lord, he had been down to Justice Fraser's first.

Q. Did he give an Account of these Persons to you?

West. He did particularly before the Justice.

Q. Did not the Justice reduce that to Writing?

West . Yes, my Lord .

Court. Then you know nothing in relation to these Prisoners but what Bray told you?

West. Nothing at all, my Lord; last Bray inform'd us of two or three Pistols in a Lane that goes up to Primrose-Hill , that were put under a Hedge, loaded.

[They were produced in Court, there were three in all, but Saunders, an Attorney in the Fleet, has got one of them.]

Q. What are these Pistols?

West . They are Soldiers Muskets; they have filed the Name out.

Court. You can't tell whose Company they belong to, or what Regiment?

West . No.

Q. Did you find them above Ground?

West. They were in a Haversack in a Handkerchief under the Hedge, in a Bush, a Piece of green Grass over them: That Gentleman, Mr. Terry, discharg'd one of them in the Field.

Court. Then this is all that you know?

Court (to Biles ) Look at them, were those the Kind of Instruments that were offer'd at your Head?

Biles. There were three of them; but I can't say these were them ; they seem to be like them; I thought them uncommon Pistols.

Q. (to Joseph Terry .) What do you know in Relation to this Matter?

Terry. I don't know any other, but that this Bray made his Confession before Mr. Nightingale and Stanley.

Court. He made his Confession before the Justice of the Peace, Mr. Fraser, who took it down in Writing.

Terry. Yes, he did all in Writing.

Q. Did he come voluntarily to give that Account, or was he taken up by a Warrant?

Terry. No, he came voluntarily.

Q. Was you present at finding these Pistols, or shorten'd Guns, or whatsoever they are call'd?

Terry. Yes, my Lord; I let one of them off in the Field.

Q. How came you to go into this Field?

Terry. My Lord, William Bray told us where to go to look after these Pieces; we took with us one Mr. Bird on Tuesday Morning to look for these Pieces.

Court. You say you went to look after them by the Direction of William Bray ?

Terry. Yes, my Lord.

Q. Did he, before you went, describe to you the Instruments you should find there?

Terry. My Lord, we could not find them: I said, this Bray, I believe, has told us a Story; let us go to Bridewell and fetch him: We went and got him, and the Governor with him, and he shew'd us the Place where they were hid.

Q. (to John Nightingale .) What do you know of this Matter?

Nightingale. My Lord, I was present when Bray surrender'd himself as an Evidence for the King.

Q. When did he surrender himself?

Nightingale. On Monday the 24th or 25th of May, between Eleven and Twelve.

Q. Was you present at the Time of the Search?

Nightingale. Yes, my Lord, I took them all up out of the Ditch.

Q. Did Bray shew you the Place?

Nightingale. Yes, my Lord.

Q. Had he first directed any body where to go in Search for them?

Nightingale. Yes, my Lord, Mr. West and I.

Q. And was it not in the same Field he directed you?

Nightingale. Yes, my Lord.

Court. Then it was in the same Field that he directed you to, tho' you could not find them?

Nightingale. Yes, my Lord; please you, my Lord, he told me of the Haversack and Handkerchief, and every Thing; he told us they were Pieces made out of Muskets, before ever we saw them .

Q. (to the Prisoners.) Would either of you ask these Witnesses any thing; they have depos'd nothing of you personally, but only of these Pistols?

Prisoners. No, my Lord.

Q. (to William Bray .) Do you know any thing with Relation to this Robbery, of John Biles , in the Parish of Pancras, between Tottenham-Court and Mother Red-Cap's?

Bray. Yes, please you, my Lord.

Q. When was it?

Bray. I can't be particular as to the Day of the Month.

Q. What Time of the Day or the Night was it?

Bray. It might be near Ten o'Clock; it was between Mother Red-Cap's and Tottenham-Court.

Q. Was it in the Road or in the Field?

Bray. It was in the Foot-Path in the Field.

Q. What was done to him?

Bray. Please you, my Lord, we took off of him a Silver Lac'd Hat, and a Pair of Leather Breeches.

Q. Did you take them off?

Bray. To the best of my Knowledge John Short might take them off; I can't be particular.

Q. What else?

Bray. A Pair of Silver Shoe-Buckles.

Q. Did he take them off himself, or did you take the Shoe-Buckles?

Bray. To the best of my Knowledge I stood with a Pistol presented to him, that Short and Thomas might take them.

Court. Short and Thomas; do you mean the Prisoners at the Bar?

Bray. Yes, my Lord.

Court. So they took the Shoe-Buckles out of the Shoes; did they?

Bray. To the best of my Knowledge they did.

Q. In what Manner did you accost him first?

Bray. We three met with him between Mother Red-Cap's and Tottenham-Court, and demanded his Money; he told us he had none; we said, d - n him, we would see: We took from him his Silver Lac'd Hat and a Pair of Silver Shoe-Buckles.

Court. You have told of these Things. Do you remember how the Buckles were taken?

Bray. One he might give out himself, and the other was taken by one of them.

Q. Did you take any Thing else?

Bray. Please you my Lord we took two Pocket Handkerchiefs and a Pair of white Ribb'd Stockings .

Q. What else?

Bray. There might be, to the best of my Knowledge , three or four Neck Stocks, and there was a Letter in his Pocket.

Q. Did you take that Letter?

Bray. Yes, please you my Lord.

Q. Is that Letter any where?

Bray. The Letter was burnt. Please you my Lord, we also took a Cork-screw from him.

Q. But what did you do with him after you had taken these Things from him?

Bray. We desir'd him to go about his Business.

Q. When he was gone how did you dispose of yourselves?

Bray. We stood a little while to see whether or not he might watch us or follow us. Afterwards we went towards Mother Red-Cap's.

Q. Did you go with your Pistols all three

Bray. Yes, my Lord.

Q. What did you do then?

Bray. We come home to London.

Q. Did you bring your Pistols with you?

Bray. Yes, my Lord.

Q. Were they the Pistols produced in Court?

Bray. Yes, my Lord.

Court. These shorten'd Guns are the Instruments you had at the Time you met John Biles .

Bray. Yes, my Lord.

Q. Did you at any Time afterwards go with them and hide these Pistols?

Bray. Not with either of them.

Q. Who hid these Pistols in the Field?

Bray. John Jennings hid the Pistols in the Field.

Court. So then this is all you know in relation to these Prisoners at the Bar as to the Fact of John Biles . What did you do with these Things after you had taken them from him?

Bray. Please you my Lord the Silver Laced Hat and the Breeches were sold to one Mr. - in the Old-Baily.

Q. Who sold them?

Bray. Please you my Lord, these two Men and me; in at the Sign of the George in the Old-Baily: Mr. - look'd on the Hat and Breeches there.

Q. How did you dispose of the Kneebuckles ?

Bray. To the best of my Knowledge they were sold at a Silversmith's .

Q. Do you know where that Silversmith lives's

Bray. I think in King-Street, Westminster.

Court. All the Silver Buckles were sold to that Silversmith, were they?

Bray. No, my Lord; some to one Silversmith and some to another.

Q. What was sold there?

Bray. The Shoebuckles and Kneebuckles .

Q. Who carried these Things to the Silversmith in King-Street? Was you present ?

Bray . I was within 20 or 30 Yards.

Q. Who then carried them?

Bray. To the best of my Knowledge, George, the Prisoner.

Q. Were you all three together?

Bray . We were not all together in the Shop.

Q. But did you all go with a Design to dispose of these Things?

Bray. Yes, my Lord; we were together in King-Street.

Q. What did you do with the Linnen? The Stocks and the Handkerchiefs .

Bray. My Lord I can't be so particular about them .

Q. When you sold these Things what Money had you for them?

Bray. To the best of my Knowledge we had about 12 s. for the Shoebuckles and Kneebucles.

Q. And what might you have from - ?

Bray. Nine or Ten Shillings, to the best of my Knowledge, my Lord.

Q. How was that distributed?

Bray. Equally, betwixt us three, please you my Lord.

Q. Can you tell what you receiv'd for your Share ?

Bray. I can't be so particular; for the Breeches and Hat it might be about 3 s my Lord.

Q. (to the Prisoner) Will you ask any Questions of the Witness?

Prisoner. Please you my Lord I know nothing of the Affair. I don't know what to ask him .

Q. (to Biles) When did you give the first Account of this Fact to any Body?

Biles. It might be the 25th of May; I can't exactly say.

Q. (to Bray) What Dress might you be in when you met Biles?

Bray. My Coat was turn'd, my Lord, to be best of my Knowledge.

Court. Your Coat was turn'd to the best of your Knowledge; People speak to the best of their Knowledge when 'tis doubtful ; you know the Thing perfectly;

upon your Oath was your Coat turn'd? was any Body's Coat turn'd? What Clothes had the others that were with you, the two Prisoner?

Bray. Their two Coats were turn'd, to the best of my Knowledge.

Court. Then you don't know whether they were turn'd, or were not?

Bray. Please you my Lord their Coats were turn'd.

Q. Were these the very Cloaths you now wear; were they turn'd, and the Cloaths they have on?

Bray. Yes, please you my Lord.

Q. (to the Prisoners) You hear what this Witness has said; what is it you have to say for yourselves?

Prisoner. My Lord, I never was with him in any Field by Night or by Day; I am innocent of the Thing, I take God to be my Judge.

Court. You know the Time that Biles has sworn to, he says the 25th of April; now have you any Witnesses to prove that you were in any other Place, or was not there?

Prisoner. I had a Witness to prove where I was at that Time.

Q. What is your Witness's Name?

Prisoner. John Brown, of Col. Bagnel 's Company; he promised to be here to Day.

Q. When did you see him last?

Prisoner. I have not seen him since I came out of the Hospital.

Q. Who did you send to him?

Prisoner) A particular Friend, James Carter , he came to me at the Gatehouse.

Q. (to the Keeper of the Gatehouse) Did they tell you they wanted to send for any Witnesses?

Keeper. No, my Lord.

Both Guilty Death .

George Thomas and John Short were a second Time indicted for assaulting Edward Clark in a certain Field on the King's Highway, on the 8th of April , putting him in fear of his Life, and feloniously taking from him a Cloth Coat, a Hat, a Pair of Buckles, and four Pence in Money , the Property of the said Edward Clark .

Q. (to Clark) When was you robb'd?

Clark, The 8th of April, about a Quarter past Nine, as near as I can guess.

Q. Where was the Place ?

Clark. I was robb'd between Buckingham-Gate and Chelsea , the first Chelsea .

Q. How far from Buckingham-Gate might it be?

Clark. Not above 200 Yards from my own House.

Court. Then you live there.

Clark. Yes, five Years, my Lord, at the Sign of the Horse and Groom.

Q. Was it in the Field?

Clark . It was in the Foot-Path, my Lord.

Q. What Number of People came upon you?

Clark . Three, my Lord.

Q. What Stature were they?

Clark. They seem'd to me to be very lusty Men .

Q. What Cloaths had they on?

Clark. They had not Soldiers Cloaths on; they were disguis'd; they were in Colours.

Q. What Colours?

Clark. I took them to be Blue or Green.

Q. Was it dark then?

Clark. It was neither light nor dark.

Q. What did they take from you?

Clark. They took from me a light-colour'd Cloth Frock and my Hat.

Q. Was your Hat any Way remarkable?

Clark. Yes my Lord, wherever the Hat is, it has a Knotch where the Button is: And they took a Pair of Buckles , my Lord, and four Pence in Money.

Q. What were the Buckles made of?

Clark. They were Metal Buckles.

Q. Have you seen any of those Things since?

Clark. No, my Lord. William Bray sent for me to Justice Fraser's and confess'd, that George Thomas , John Short and he had done it.

Court. Then you can't be sure to the Men?

Clark. No, my Lord.

Court. Now let Bray be brought into Court.

Q. (to Bray) Do you know any Thing of the robbing Edward Clark ?

Bray. Yes, my Lord.

Q. What Time might it be?

Bray. I can't tell Particulars; it might be some Time in April.

Q. Was it the Beginning, the latter End, or Middle of April?

Bray. I can't be so particular, please you my Lord.

Q. How long was it after the Robbery of Biles? Might it be a Month, a Fortnight, or three Weeks, or what; can't you remember at what Distance of Time one Robbery was transacted from another?

Bray. It might be a Week or ten Days after that, please you my Lord .

Q. You say you remember this Robbery; what o'Clock was it?

Bray. Please you, my Lord, it might be about Ten o'Clock .

Q. What Time did you go out of London?

Bray. We we went out of London, please you, my Lord, between Eight and Nine .

Q. Who was with you?

Bray. John Short and George Thomas .

Q. Where did you go that Night?

Bray. Into the Five Fields between London and Chelsea .

Q. Who did you meet with there?

Bray . This was the Man, Edward Clark .

Q. What did you take from him?

Bray . We took from him a Hat.

Q. Was there any thing remarkable in the Hat?

Bray. Not that I know of . And a Coat , it was a light-colour'd Coat with broad Buttons, we took them to be Plate .

Q. Was it a Great Coat?

Bray. A close-body'd Coat, my Lord.

Q. Did you take any thing else?

Bray. We took from him a Groat in Half pence, to the best of my Knowledge, and a Pair of Scissars .

Q. What else?

Bray. Nothing else.

Q. Did you take any Metal Buckles?

Bray. Yes, please you, my Lord, I remember them.

Q. Were the Prisoners with you?

Bray. Yes, my Lord.

Q. What, did you rob with these same Pistols? In what Manner did you rob?

Bray. We met him in the Five Fields and demanded his Money; he did not seem to be free, so we haul'd him out of the Road, by a little Gateway, into the Field, and George Thomas hit him over the Head with one of the Pistols, and we took from from him a Hat, Coat, and a Pair of Buckles, a Groat in Half-pence and a Pair of Scissars.

Q. Did you divide these Things; or what did you do with them?

Bray. Please, you, my Lord, the Coat was sold in the Street beyond Thieving-Lane; but I can't nominate the Street.

Q. Was you present when it was sold?

Bray. Yes, my Lord.

Q. What was it sold for?

Bray. For 2 s.

Q. Had you any Part of the Money?

Bray. Yes, my Lord.

Q. Have you any thing farther to say?

Bray. No, my Lord.

Q. (to the Prisoner.) Would you ask the Witness any Questions?

Prisoner. My Lord, I don't know what to ask him; but what he has said is entirely false .

Q. You other Prisoner, have you any thing to say?

Prisoner. He swears quite wrong; I never drank with the Man above once in my Life, and am as innocent as the Child unborn.

Court. (to Edward Clark .) Stand up; you have heard what Bray says : When they met you they demanded your Money, and you was not free to give it .

Clark. As I keep a Publick-House I thought they had play'd the Rogue with me. They presented one Pistol to my Head, another to my Breast, and one of them struck me on the Head: I was two Hours before I came to my Senses ; they beat me both in the Pathway and in the Field, and dragg'd me over a Bank into a Place call'd Avery-Farm Field .

Q. (to William Bray .) Do you belong to the same Company with the Prisoners? What Company are you of ?

Bray. I belong to Col. Boscawen 's Company .

Q. What Company do the Prisoners belong to?

Bray. To the best of my Knowledge they belong to a Grenadiers Company; but I don't know the Lord's Name, though the Gentleman they belong to came to see me while I was in Prison; I can't readily think of his Name.

Q. How did you come by these Pistols?

Bray. It was Thomas Bird and John Short cut them in the Manner they are.

Both Guilty , Death .

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