HenRY SIMMS, Violent Theft > highway robbery, 25th February 1747.

Reference Number: t17470225-18
Offence: Violent Theft > highway robbery
Verdict: Guilty
Punishment: Death

149. + HenRY SIMMS was indicted for a Robbery on the King's Highway, upon the 18th of October , in Middlesex; and the Indictment sets forth, that the said Henry Simms did make an Assault upon Francis Sleep , putting him in bodily Fear, and by Violence taking from him one Silver Watch, value 3 l. and 6 s. in Money , the Property of Francis Sleep.

The Prisoner when called to the Bar said, that he had but a very short Time to send Sixty-two Miles for his Witnesses; it was answered that he had Time enough to send for any Witnesses.

Francis Sleep . My Lord, I set out from my House on Saturday Afternoon, about Five o'Clock, it might be a little more or less, it was about Dusk.

Q. Where did you set out from?

Sleep. From Falconbridge court, in St. Ann's Parish, in the Liberty of Westminster; I was going to my own House at Whittlebourgh, in Watford Parish, where my Wife was gone for her Health; she was very sick, so was my Child; and between Hoasden green and Stone-bridge I met this young Man, the Prisoner, upon the Road; I had indeed overtaken a Carter that drove an Hay-Cart, which was upon a little Poney, like my own; and as the Carter and I were riding together, between Hodsden green and Stone-bridge, this young Man, the Prisoner, met me on the Road; he comes hollowing in a very bold refractory Manner, with something in his Hand; and when he came near, I saw it was a Pistol, I thought he had been a drunken Gentleman, he had the Appearance of a Gentleman; I thought he was drunk and wanted the Road; I crossed my Horse out of the Way, not designing to contend for the Road, I turned my Horse out of the Way, and he turned his Horse out of the Way to meet me, and swore in a blasphemous Manner, that he would shoot me dead if I did not stop; d - n your Blood, and a Number of Oaths, if I did not stop he would shoot me dead; so I stopped immediately, and he presented a Pistol at me, I judged it was rather longer than a common Pistol; he then demanded my Money, which I gave him.

Q. Was it the Length of a Horse-pistol?

Sleep. Not quite so long I believe. When he demanded my Money, I told him I had but little; I was going to see my Wife, and I had not Occasion for much Money, so I gave him my Money, which was 6 s. it happened to be in my Pocket alone, for I had changed a Guinea that Day, and paid 15 s. for the King's Tax; then he asked me for my Watch, and afterwards he demanded my Perriwig; it was a frosty Night, I desired him not to take my Wig, for I should catch cold; I told him it would do him very little Service, I did not wear costly Wigs, so for that Reason I obtained my Wig again; then he went to the other Person in Company, to whom he swore if he stirred a Foot further, he would strike him dead, still joining Oaths to his Words.

Q. Was that Menace made to the Carter before he robbed you?

Sleep. During the Time of his robbing me.

Court. Then the Carter stood still during the Time he was robbing you?

Sleep. Yes, Sir, he went and demanded Money of him, but I don't remember that he had any of him. I forgot one thing, my Lord; before he left me, he insisted upon my swearing I would say nothing of what had past; I told him I was never used to swear since I was 18 Years of Age, and am now upwards of forty; I said I would lose my Life rather than I would swear an Oath; then he left me, and said two others would have robbed me if he had not; I said then what shall I say if any Body should attack me; he said, say Thomas, that was the Word, upon that he rode off; after he had given me that Instruction. I rode forwards towards Harrow; and in about a quarter of a Mile, I did meet two Persons, who rode swiftly past us, who said nothing to us, nor we to them; and I judged they were the Highwaymen, and had some Intelligence that they might know that he had robbed me, and so thought it in vain to stop us any more. So I said to the Man in Company, these were the two Men that he told us of, they had the Appearance of Highwaymen; for 'tis not usual for Persons passing in the Night, but they say good Night, or something to that Purpose; so I apprehended these were the Persons he mentioned; one was on a black and the other on a white Horse.

Q. What Horse was the Prisoner mounted upon?

Sleep. Upon a brown Horse, a very fine one. - I says to the Carter, I'll follow these two Men, I believe they belong to him, and by following them, perhaps we shall come to the Knowledge of this Person; so then without going to my House in the Country, I turned back towards London. As soon as I came over against the Place where I was robbed, I heard two Horses jump into the Field, and I could hear the Horses Hoofs trumpting at a great Rate between Edgware and Harrow Road; I rode on further to Hodsden-green, there I met several Persons that he had attacked, one Man had lost his Horse, and they rode towards London, so did I; they thought

they should overtake him; but it was all in vain, for he was better mounted than any of them. I rode as far as Paddington, and put up my Horse; I considered my Wife would be frightened if I did not come, so I went my intended Journey, and got there about Eleven o'Clock at Night.

Court. You say it was about the Hour of Five when you set out from Falconbridge-court, and you say you rode about five Miles from thence, between Stone-bridge and Hodsden-green, and the Prisoner came up to you; as it was dusk, how came you to know that the Prisoner at the Bar was the Person you met?

Sleep. That Person at the Bar was so near me, and the Moon shone so bright, that I could see his Face as plain as I can now. I told the Carter I had seen him before; I knew the Prisoner a Boy, I knew his Grand-mother, and I am now sure I am not deceived in his Face. I am certain he is the Man.

Court. Now, Mr. Sleep, you say it was the 18th of October last; how long might you take in going from Falconbridge court to this Place where you met him?

Sleep. I can't say, I did not ride fast; I apprehend I was about an Hour in riding of it, hardly so much.

Court. You said you should know him again; and that upon Reflection his Grand-mother you knew, and you knew him a Boy?

Sleep. Yes.

Q. When did you see him since the Time you was robbed?

Sleep. My Lord, I knew him to be the Person, by recollecting his Face.

Q. Have you your Watch?

Sleep. Yes, I have the Watch that was taken from him, and the Watch I could tell from a Thousand.

[The Watch was produced in Court]

Q. How came you by this Watch now?

Sleep. It was advertised that this Henry Simms was taken, after he robbed me, and he was committed to Bedford-Goal; there was another Circumstance occurred, that this Person, the very Saturday Night that he robbed me, he came to an Acquaintance of mine in Monmouth street; they told me that such a Person, Henry Simms , was advertised and taken up for the Highway, I said that is the Person that has robbed me; says they he was here that very Night he robbed you, and pulled out a Watch, such a Sort of a Watch as you described, and said, Was it not a Pity a Man should die for such a thing as this? he wanted a Pair of Boots in Monmouth-street, so then I said he was the Person that robbed me, and I had a Desire to go and see whether or no he had my Watch in Possession, but I let the thing lie a considerable Time, till I went into the Country to see my Mother; so I had the Curiosity to go from Luton to Justice Nodes at Bedford, and after I described my Watch to him, he brought it out.

Q. And you swear that is the Watch the Prisoner took from you?

Sleep. Yes, my Lord.

Prisoner. My Lord, please to ask him whether he knew me before the Time that the People told him I was there to buy a Pair of Boots.

Q. to Mr. Sleep. When did you know him?

Sleep. I knew him when a Boy, by the Name of Henry Simms .

Court. You say these People in Monmouth street, they recollected and called him by the Name of Henry Simms ?

Sleep. They knew him, my Lord, as well as I.

Q. When he robbed you, did you recollect that he was the Person you knew when a Boy, by the Name of Henry Simms ?

Sleep. No, I did not, my Lord.

Court. Prisoner, have you any other Questions to be asked?

Prisoner. Ask him what Time of the Night it was, whether there was any other Persons nigh at that Time; whether I hollowed cut or any Pistol fired, or any Person asked him for a Hat or Wig.

Q. to Mr. Sleep. Was there any Body near you?

Sleep. There was no Body but the Carter.

Court. You say you met several People, did you communicate the Robbery to the People you met ?

Sleep. Yes, I told them of the Robbery.

Q. to Justice Nodes. Do you know any thing with Relation to the Prisoner's being brought before you, or conveyed to Bedford Goal, or any thing taken from him?

Justice Nodes. On the 20th Day of October last, I was informed that the Warrington Coach was robbed, and they had taken an Highwayman; when the Prisoner was taken, there were three Watches taken from him, one was a gold one, and one of the silver ones this Witness came and owned; when under Examination, the Prisoner confessed that between Harrow on the Hill and London, he had robbed several People.

Court. I ask whether the Watch delivered to Francis Sleep was the Watch taken from the Prisoner?

Justice Nodes. I did deliver the Watch taken from the Prisoner, to Mr. Sleep; when under Examination he did own to me he had robbed several Persons between Harrow on the Hill and London, the 18th of October.

Q. Did he sign that?

Justice Nodes. No.

Prisoner. I am sure it was not a proper Officer that search'd me; I don't know what they might put into my Pocket.

Q. to Mr. Sleep. Is that the Watch you was robbed of?

Sleep. Yes, my Lord, it is.

Court to the Prisoner. Would you ask any Questions to the Justice of Peace?

Prisoner. Ask him whether he found that Watch upon me.

Court. He does not say that he found it upon you; but you hear what Mr. Sleep and the Justice has sworn; Have you any Witnesses to call, or any thing to say in your Defence?

Prisoner. As for bringing of People to my C haracter, 'tis only troubling the Court; but I apprehend the Law is so tenderly made in such Cases, that I don't think any Jury in the World will bring me in guilty upon this, to have a Bill found against me, when the Witness did not know that I was the Person, till I was at a House buying a Pair of Boots. I shall say no more, my Lord, at present.

Court to Mr. Sleep. The People told you that he had produced the Watch?

Sleep. Yes, Sir.

Guilty , Death .


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