John Wilkins, Henry Cobb, Violent Theft > highway robbery, 5th December 1746.

Reference Number: t17461205-16
Offence: Violent Theft > highway robbery
Verdict: Not Guilty; Guilty
Punishment: Death

20, 21. + John Wilkins and Henry Cobb were indicted for a Robbery on the King's Highway, committed on Jane Todd , putting her in bodily Fear, and taking from her one Camblet Gown, value 10 s. one Pair of Breeches, value 5 s. and one Bag , the Goods of David Silver of Islington, the 25th of October .

Jane Todd . On Saturday Night, above a Month ago, between six and seven o'Clock at Night.

Q. Where was you going?

Todd. To Islington.

Q. Where was you coming from?

Todd. Out of Goswel street .

Q. Do you know the Place they met you?

Todd. In Compton-street, they followed me all up the Street.

Q. Which of them?

Todd. That Soldier with the Handkerchief about his Head (Wilkins)

Q. Well, what did he do?

Todd. He followed me up Compton-street; now and then he gave me a Jobb with a Stick, and he waited for the other to come to him several Times, and called him.

Q. What did he say?

Todd. I think he called him Tom, then they went and stood at the Watch-house at the End of Wood's-Close; he stood there and called for the other, then they both came up and stood under the Golden Fleece Window, and there was another Gentleman that was coming to London, or going to Islington, and he went into my Lord Cobham's; so these Soldiers they went

and stood at the Turk's-head Field gate; I saw them stand there, and I turned again, and as I was turning back again, the Soldier he run after me, he with an Handkerchief about his Head ( Wilkins ) he ran after me, and overtook me, and throwed me down, and took the Things from me.

Q. What Things?

Todd. The scarlet Gown, and Snuff coloured Breeches, and another wrapped up in a Cloth Bag, they took and slung them into the Ditch.

Q. Was that all the Things?

Todd. And a coloured Handkerchief, they flung them into the Ditch, and afterwards jump'd in, and took them out, and away they run.

Court. You say but one took away the Things from you?

Todd. It was he with the Handkerchief slung them into the Ditch, then jump'd in and took them out, and ran away.

Q. Did you see any more than one?

Todd. There was two at the Turk's-head Gate, but there was but one that meddled with me.

Q. Where was you when they met with you?

Todd. I was under the Turk's head Window, they stood both together at the Field-gate when I saw them; but whether the other Man went away, I cannot tell.

Q. But as it was dark, how do you know they are them?

Todd. By their Tallness they are the same.

Q. When did you see them afterwards? You saw the Soldier jump into the Ditch, and took up the Bundle that he took from you, and run away Now go on: What followed after this? Do you live at Islington?

Todd. Yes, Sir.

Q. Was no body with you?

Todd. No, Sir.

Q. Give an Account when these Men run away. What did you do?

Todd. Sir, I cried out Murder! stop Thieves! I ran down as far as the Turnpike, and the Turnpike-man catched the Soldier.

Q. What followed after this?

Todd. The other Soldier was catched, (he with the Handkerchief about his Head) and swore that I was his Sister.

Q. What did you do after this, you say both the Soldiers were taken? What became of them?

Todd. Sir, they were catched, and I went before the Justice that Night, and the Justice was not at Home I believe; and I went before the Justice the next Morning, the Gentlemen went with me.

Q. Was it not very dark between six and seven o'Clock?

Todd. I could see their Cloaths, but I did not mind their Faces.

Court. You say there was but one that meddled with you?

Todd. No, and he had his Hair on then.

Q. How do you know that's the Soldier?

Todd. He has cut his Hair off. I look'd at him as I was on the Ground, and cried out Murder. I was frightened; I was afraid they were about to kill me.

Q. to Richard Vaughan . What do you know of this Matter?

Vaughan. On Saturday the 25th of October, I was coming from Islington, between the Hours of six and seven, and just as I came by my Lord Cobham's Window, I saw the Prisoner at the Bar, John Wilkins , otherwise Roberson, take the Bundle from underneath the Girl as she lay upon the Ground.

Q. Did you know the Man before?

Vaughan. No, my Lord.

Q. Are you sure that's the Man?

Vaughan. Yes, my Lord, I am sure that is him that has the Handkerchief about his Head. After he had robbed the Girl, he run into the Road; I pursued him with the Bundle under his Arm, down to the Turnpike and back again, almost to the Place where he committed the Robbery, then he dropped the Bundle in the Road, thinking that I might stop to take it up, but I let it lay, and pursued him. Just as he was entering into Wood's Close Field, I, with the Assistance of another Gentleman, took him and carried him into my Lord Cobham's, which is a Publick-house; we were there about five or six Minutes, and he went out along with the Constable, and shewed him were he dropped the things; the Bundle lay where he dropped it. The other Prisoner, Cobb, he came in, alledging that Wilkins was drunk, and he said the Girl was his Sister, and that he had been beating of her, because she would not do as he would have her. Then, my Lord, we asked Wilkins if he knew this Cobb, he said no, he did not know him; and we asked Cobb whether he knew Wilkins, he said yes, he had known him two or three Years, and had been in his Company a great many Times. So, my Lord, we searched Cobb, and took an Hanger away from him; that is all, my Lord, I know of the Affair.

Q. Did you see Cobb at any Time before he came into the House?

Vaughan. No, my Lord.

Q. to the Prisoners. Will either of you ask this Witness any Questions?

Cobb. He never saw me before I came into that House.

Court. Well, he does not say that he did.

- Barnes. As I was coming to Town the 25th of October.

Q. Was you with Vaughan?

Barnes. Yes, about the Distance of three Yards before we came to my Lord Cobham's, I saw the Prisoner with the Handkerchief about his Head, take the Bundle from under the Girl, and immediately he jumped into the Ditch, and then into the Road, and made towards the Turnpike; Mr Vau ghan after him directly to the Road; and I went towards the Turnpike. Just about the Place where he took it from the Girl, there he dropped it; he turned to the Right, near Wood's Close, and Vaughan took hold of the Flap of his Coat: the Noise of the Girl alarmed the House, and Mr Hayward came out of the House, upon that he collared him, and Vaughan said this is he. Hayward said, You Villain, how could you serve the Child so? says Wilkins, be a Friend to me, and I will tell you.

Q. Where was the Child?

Barnes. The Girl stood under the Window when I left her; when Wilkins said, be a Friend to me, Hayward said we will, if you will shew us the things, with that he went out, and showed him; with that the other Prisoner, Cobb, came in, and said the Prisoner Wilkins was in Liquor, let him go about his Business. Some other Gentlemen in the House said, How should you know he was in Liquor, unless you were an Accomplice with him? They insisted upon his being secured as well as the other. The other Prisoner (Cobb) stood about the Distance of a Yard and a half from the Girl, when the Prisoner Wilkins took the things from her, but I did not see him do any thing.

Q. How did you know it was he?

Barnes. My Lord, I never lost Sight of him.

Court. You have told us that you know Wilkins, but how did you know the other Prisoner Cobb?

Barnes. I can't swear to his Face. He had a great blue Coat on; and the Person that came in, that said Wilkins was in Liquor, I can take upon me to swear, that that is the Person that stood up against the House. Then we had them before a Magistrate, and there was an Hanger found upon Cobb.

Q to Robert Hayward Give an Account of what you know with Relation to this Matter.

Hayward. I was at the House of Mr Taunton's, at my Lord Cobham's Head, on Saturday the 25th of October last, where I heard an Out cry of Murder repeated two or three Times; immediately after added, Stop Thief. There were several Gentlemen in the Room. I said, Gentlemen, will no-body go to the Assistance of this Person?

Q. What was the cry?

Hayward. The Voice of a Girl. I said, Will none of you go to the Assistance of this Person? Upon which Mr Greenwood, the Constable, immediately turned out of the Door along with me; when we came out, there was a Person running up the Road, crying Stop him, Stop him, this is one; upon which I ran up the Causeway; this Mr Vaughan pursued him, and brought him as it were into my Arms. I saw the Girl. I said, You sorry Villain, how could you meddle with this Child? Where are the things you have taken from her? Upon which I led him into the House, and I told him, if he would tell me where the things were that he had taken from the Child, he should go about his Business; he then, my Lord, begged that I would stand his Friend, and if I would, he would go and shew me where the things were; upon which I led him out by the Collar, and he went across the Way into the high Road, and there the Bundle lay; and I took it up, and we brought him back into the House; as I was bringing him into the House, the Prisoner, Cobb, was standing under the Window; and he says to me, let the Fellow go, for he is in Liquor, he is fuddled, and said that the Girl was his Sister, and because the little B - h would not do as he would have her, he had pushed her down, and that was all, so desired that I would let him go; so we charged the Constable with them both, and we went before the Justice the next Morning; the Night when we went to the Justice's, he was not in the Way; I sent to one of the Under-keepers of Bridewell, and he asked if we had search'd them, we said no; upon which we searched them and found the Hanger.

Q. to Thomas Greenwood , Constable. Where had you those things?

Greenwood. I pick'd them up in the Road, by the Direction of Wilkins or Roberson.

Court. He went with you, did he?

Greenwood. Yes, my Lord, and these things I found in the middle of the Road in that Bag.

Q. to Jane Todd . Did you know what was in that Bag?

Todd. Yes, A scarlet Gown, a Pair of Breeches, and a Handkerchief.

Q. Whose were these things?

Todd. My Mistress's.

Court. You were carrying those things Home, were you not?

Todd. Yes.

Q. Who is your Mistress?

Todd. Mrs Silver.

Q. She has an Husband, has she not?

Todd. Yes, Sir.

Court. So that Gown belonged to them, and you was carrying of it Home?

Todd. Yes, Sir.

Q. What besides the Gown?

Todd. A Pair of Snuff-coloured Breeches, and a coloured Handkerchief.

Q. Whose were the Breeches?

Todd. Her Brother's, Sir.

Court. Do you know your Master's Name?

Todd. Yes. David Silver .

Q. to the Prisoner. What have you to say in your Defence against this Charge?

Wilkins. Please you, my Lord, I was going from Islington, and was very much in Liquor, and meeting this Girl in the Causeway, I pushed this Girl down, and the Bundle falls into the Ditch; then she cried out, stop Thief; then there was some Gentlemen coming along, and they laid hold of me and said, this is the Man.

Q. Was this Girl your Sister?

Wilkins. Please you, my Lord, I never said she was my Sister.

Q. to Cobb. What have you to say for yourself?

Cobb. My Lord, as I was getting up on Saturday Morning, this young Fellow says to me, will you take a Walk? I goes with him to Islington, and we spent some Time playing two or three Games at Cards.

Court. If I understand you right, you and your Comrade had been playing at Cards about three; but when did you Part?

Cobb. Between the Turnpike and the Duke of Cumberland's Head.

Q. About what Time did you part?

Cobb. Between five and six o'Clock.

Q. Have you any thing further to say? Will you call any Witnesses?

Cobb. When my Comrade was taken, I heard a Disturbance; I goes into the Yard, and that little Man with a black Wig he catches me by the Collar, and said I was one of his Confederates; whereupon he takes my Hanger from my Side, and my Stick out of my Hand.

Court. Here is one of the Witnesses saw you standing within a Yard and half of the other Prisoner, when the Bundle was taken from the Girl. Have you any Witnesses?

Court. Hayward, do you observe what Cobb said, that Wilkins (the Prisoner) was in Liquor? What did you observe of it?

Hayward. The young Fellow appeared to me to be in Liquor, he begged that I would be a Friend to him, that he never did any such Thing before, but the other Prisoner (Cobb) put him upon it. This is going farther than I did before.

Court. Cobb, have you any Witnesses?

Cobb No, my Lord, I have not.

[ The above Witness ( Hayward ) discovered a compatunate Regard for the Prisoner ( Wilkins ) and by what appeared to him, that he had not been used to such a wicked Employment, and did firmly believe he was drawn into it by Cobb, who had the Success to escape, as there was not that full Evidence against him].

Henry Cobb , acquitted , John Wilkins , otherwise Roberson, guilty , Death .

The Court gave Cobb a solemn Warning to be careful of his Conduct for the future, as he had so very narrow an Escape for his Life.


View as XML