Lawrence Lee, Peter Murphy, Violent Theft > highway robbery, 11th April 1749.

Reference Number: t17490411-5
Offence: Violent Theft > highway robbery
Verdict: Guilty
Punishment: Death
[Note: this edition of the Proceedings was misdated on the original title page. The correct dates for this meeting of the court are MAY 11, 12 and 13, 1749.]

323, 324. Lawrence Lee and Peter Murphy , were indicted for robbing John Delaport , on the King's high way near Islington , April 4 .

Joha Delaport . On Tuesday the 4th of April, about eight o'clock in the evening, as I was returning from Cambridge alone, coming by the lower road , Islington, almost opposite Cambray House , I was going a trott, I overtook an ill-looking fellow on foot on my right hand, with a very large stick in his hand; I clapp'd spurs to my horse; I perceived him to make after me, and heard him say some word, which I took to be stop. I was a little surprized. I saw two other men about 40 yards before me, one on my right hand and the other on my left. As I came near them, they ran directly towards my horse; he on my right hand had a cutlass, the other a pistol, which he snapp'd and bid me stop. My horse went from under me and I fell into a ditch; they pulled me out, one of them demanded my money. I gave him my silver, which was about four or five shillings , and a little canvas bag with some French sixpences; they asked me for my watch, which I delivered them.

Q. Was it a silver or gold case?

Delaport . Gold, my Lord. In the interim, there came up a man on horseback; and in hopes it might be some honest countryman, I cried out, For God's sake don't murder me. Immediately he on horseback came up with a great club in his hand, and swore he would beat my brains out if I spoke another word, or did not immediately go over into the field. [ This by their own confession was Murphy on my horse] They all three took me about 40 yards into the field , that is, the two that pull'd me out of the ditch , and the other I first overtook, who was got up to them by that time they had took me to the middle of the road. Murphy was not in the field. They then examined me more closely, and in a little private pocket they took out two rings, one was gold set with diamonds , the other gold, with a picture of the Prince of Wales. They also took a pair of silver wrought buckles ; then they tore off my spurs, one of which I found the next morning; it is amazing how genteely they took it. [the leather was torn off at one end, and the silver spur much bent.] They took a pair of gold buttons out of my sleeves , a handkerchief, a cravat from my neck, then they made me take of my coat, and underneath they took away my green velvet waistcoat, my hanger, my wig, and a silver laced hat; they helped me on with my great coat afterwards. At this time there were two men riding by, I once had thoughts to call out, but Murphy in his confession says, it was a gentleman's servant and himself, he being on my horse, and fearing I should meet with assistance, he rode along with him. Then they made me set down on the grass, and tied both my hands, and forced one of my feet through. There they left me sitting, and told me, if I removed from thence till they returned, they would murder me.

Q. How long did you continue there?

Delaport. About a quarter of an hour, till I was afraid of endangering my health. When I got up, my breeches was unbuttoned, but I made shift to get to Islington, then I was safe.

Q. How came you to hear of your things again?

Delaport . I have been very industrious in advertising, upon which there came a Jew to me with a hanger and belt, which he supposed to be mine.

Q. Was the hanger yours?

Delaport. It was, my lord; I went to the Poultry-Compter where the Prisoner Lee was, he was in a little place. I desired him to come out; he said he new nothing of me, and would not; I had intelligence he lived in a court in Petticoat-lane, I got a search-warrant and took two or three of my servants with me, and we found an Irishman and a girl; I, seeing the man strive to avoid us, ran and seized him by the collar, the girl I found to

be niece to the prisoner Lee, I desired her to deliver the key of the door, which she did after some threats. The first thing I found was my own wig in a box; then I found some powder-horns , and several implements for making bullets; we went down into the cellar where we found two pistols loaded and a hanger, the girl proposed to give us all the intelligence she could; she said one that was not yet taken had play'd at rob thief with the rest; I then return'd to Lee who was in the Counter; I ask'd if he knew James Wood, and if he did not remember the lace waist-coat , which the girl had told me of; she said Wood sent her for sixpence worth of salmon to White-chapel . In the interim he broke open a place and ran away with the two rings and two watches, the one gold, the other silver, the former I suppose to be mine, and a pair of pistols cap'd with silver. She said she had had the two rings on her fingers, and that he told her one was the picture of the king's daughter, and the other was a diamond ring.

Q. What day was this?

Delaport. This was on Sunday; on the Monday I went to Lee and he own'd the fact and begg'd to be admitted an evidence. He impeach'd thirteen besides himself and Murphy, which I have a list of; he own'd he had been guilty of several other robberies. He put on his hat in a particular position, in which he said it was when he robb'd me. On observing it I am confident he is the very man that was on my right hand; he confessed every thing before the alderman, it was taken in writing, and I believe contains three sides of a sheet of paper. I then went to New Prison where I saw Murphy. The Saturday before I told him I suspected he was one of the persons that robb'd me, which he absolutely denied; but when I went to him again and told him that Lee was committed to the Poultry-Compter for further examination, he own'd every thing; that he got on my horse, and threatened in the manner before related, and that he belonged to the gang, and assisted in the robbery, and that he turn'd my horse up again in the yard belonging to the Thatch'd-house, Islington : I had two witnesses that heard him say this, but was not willing to trouble the court; I read the list to him which I had from Lee, and he own'd he had been concerned in robberies with eleven of them .

Nathan Ashur . Lee came to me the 5th of April and another man with him which he call'd James Wood , who had a bundle. Lee call'd me aside, and said he had something to sell that I might get something by; so I went with him in another room. He opened a handkerchief, I saw there a green double-breasted velvet waistcoat, it had gold tasts, and laced before and about the pockets. I was quite astonished to see such a valuable thing ; there was above a pound of gold about it, as near as I could guess; he also shew'd me two rings, one had fourteen little diamonds round a yellow diamond in the middle.

Q. to Delaport . Did that ring answer to any of yours?

Delaport . Yes, exactly my Lord; the other was a picture ring with shell work at the bottom where the picture was set in.

Ashur . There was a pair of gold buttons with crystal stones.

Delaport. I suppose they took them out of my sleeves.

Ashur . He ask'd me if I could sell them for them; said I, these things are valuable; I do not know what to say to it. When I was looking on the waistcoat Wood went out of the house, Lee gave me the rings to sell, but I return'd them him again.

Q. Was the waistcoat wet?

Ashur. Yes, on one side, I can't tell which.

Delaport. As I fell from my horse I fell on my right side, which received some wet.

Q. Do you know of any thing else?

Ashur . On the Sunday he came with this hanger and said he must sell it; he desired me to take it, and sell it not under eighteen shillings. When I had got the hanger in my hand I went to a Constable, gave it to him, and desir'd he would come and take the prisoner.

Stephen Lisle . I am the Constable. Ashur the Jew came to me on Saturday-night to inform me, Lee was to come with something for sale; he came accordingly on Sunday; it was about eleven o' clock; I call'd assistance and took him away, and lodg'd him in the Compter; then I went to the prosecutor, he own'd the hanger, and came along with us; we went to the house where Lee lived, and found a girl, who opened the door; we went in and took out the following things, two pistols deeply loaded, Mr. Delaport's wig, and another wig, a red cloak and a hanger.

Elizabeth Lee . The prisoner Lee is my uncle, I liv'd with him, and all of them that kept the place. Peter Murphy took the house, and they were all to pay as much as he.

Q. How many were there of them?

Eliz. Lee. There were five of them; they wer e very private, I knew nothing of their ways indeed.

Q. Did you see James Wood burn the lace belonging to this velvet waistcoat?

Eliz. Lee . Yes, I did.

Q. Did you see the gold watch?

Eliz. Lee. Yes, I did several times.

Q. Whose hands did you see it in?

Eliz. Lee. I saw them in James Wood 's custody, he put them both on my finger; the one had a picture, the other stones , and he told me one was the picture of the king's daughter.

Lee's Defence . I bought that hanger of a sailor for thirteen shillings, I do not know where to find him now, but I have proof of it, but my witnesses are gone down into Kent last week; the prosecutor says he was robb'd on the 4th of April on a Tuesday, but I have two men to swear where I lay that night, but they are not at liberty to be here to day.

Murphy's Defence. I did not rob the prosecutor at all, or ever take a farthing from him in my life.

Both guilty Death .

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