Valentine Godwin, James Johnson, Violent Theft > highway robbery, 5th July 1749.

Reference Number: t17490705-46
Offence: Violent Theft > highway robbery
Verdict: Guilty
Punishment: Death

422, 423. Valentine Godwin and James Johnson , were indicted, for that they, in company with William Lacy and William Tidd , on the King's high-way, upon one Henry Aplen , did make an assault, and put in corporal fear and danger of his life, and did steal one man's hat, val. 1 s. one silk handkerchief, val. 2 s. and 3 s. 3 d. halfpenny in money, numbered from the person of the said Henry Aplen , June 25 .

Henry Aplen . I was coming through Whitechapel on Sunday was se'nnight, between one and two in the morning, driving a drove of sheep; there were five men met me, and ask'd me if I drove sheep along by myself, and I said yes. They stood round me; I said, pray do not disturb the sheep; they went away all five about three yards distance, then two of them came back, Valentine Godwin was one of them, the other three stood still, and these two took me by the collar: I said before they came quite to me, what would you have? they said every farthing of your money, and before I could pull it out myself they took it out; it was one half crown, and a sixpence, and threepence halfpenny, then the other three came up; the prisoner Johnson drew a knife, and said he would cut my head off, or cut my throat, if I did not give them all my money, saying I had more: I bid him to search me, for I had no more; then they began to pull off my hat, I thought they were going to strip me naked; they took my handkerchief and buckles, in the mean time I took great notice of them, I can swear they are two of the men; they desired me to promise I would not tell, which I promised them. When they were gone, I cry'd out. There were five men came out of an ale house, and they took an accomplice who is come here as a witness.

Edward Anderson . I was walking along Whitechapel, I met with three of these men last Sunday se'nnight in the morning, one of them I knew very well, that is William Tidd ; I ask'd him where he was going; he said, to take a walk up White-chapel : we cross'd over the Mount, and in the road there was the prosecutor with a drove of sheep before him: we came to him; he said don't disturb the sheep, because I shall be troubled to look them up. We went by him, two of our company went back again, that was Tidd and Godwin; Tidd took him by the collar and said, I must have all your money, and Godwin had one hand to the prosecutor's pocket; then we went one after another, Johnson stood with a knife in his hand, and said he would cut his throat if he did not deliver more money. When we had done we went towards Stepney-fields, and coming round we met five men; they having a suspicion we had fire-arms they never attempted to meddle with us. Johnson went up to one of the men and said, the first that laid hold of him he would rip him up; he had a knife in his hand; they all run away, and I being a little lame I laid myself down on the side of a bank, and one of them came and took hold of me presently.

Q. Did you see the prisoner Godwin take the prosecutor by the collar?

Anderson. No, sir, I saw him take the money out of his pocket; he might do it before I came up; I stood by the pales some time.

Q. Had Johnson a knife in his hand?

Anderson. Yes he had, my Lord.

William Hemms . I was the constable of the night at White-chapel watch-house; the old gentleman came and ask'd for a constable, saying he had been robb'd, and I don't know but my sheep are lost; he said the same there as he does here. While he was telling me about it another witness brought in one, which was Anderson; the old gentleman said he was positive that was one of them that robb'd him, so I took charge of him.

George Argent . The prosecutor was coming crying out thieves! &c. There were five of us went out of a house, he told us which way they were gone; we went into Stepney-fields, going along we came up to these five men that robbed the prosecutor; I walked through them all, and one of our company behind happen'd to say, I don't think but these are the five fellows that robb'd the old man. Johnson said he would stick him if he offer'd to lay hands on him. After these words were spoke they all run, so we ran after them, the last witness drop'd down and we took him; the others got off, so we brought him to the watch-house, and there was the prosecutor. Father, said I, I believe here is one of them that robb'd you? Yes, said he, I'll swear he was one of them.

Thomas Ind . On Sunday was se'nnight the witness Anderson was brought prisoner to us, on suspicion of robbing with several others; he told us who were with him in the robbery, and said Valentine Godwin worked with Justice Rickets in the Minories; we went and took him, we brought him to the goal, and in going hence with him he confess'd it was the first robbery he had done. Since he was an evidence here himself, he told us where to go after the other three, saying we might find them sometimes on Tower-hill, sometimes on Saltpetre-bank. Johnson was taken and brought to us last night for robbing a barber's shop, we took him before Sir Samuel Gore this morning and he committed him to Newgate.

Valentine Godwin's Defence. The evidence Anderson, when he was at Hick's hall, they made him fudled, and gave him some halfpence, and he swore any thing; and in Clerkenwell Bridewell he made his brags he would swear right or wrong to get his liberty.

Johnson's Defence. I had been drinking on Saturday-night at the Bull-head ale-house, and coming along White-chapel watch-house, I met with this man and two more, (meaning his fellow-prisoner) he asked me to give him a dram. I went to a gin-shop and gave him part of half a pint of gin: we went over the Mount, and as we walked along we met the prosecutor with some sheep, I was going to lie down in a hay-cock; one of the men that is gone went and did the robbery, but I know nothing of it.

Both Guilty Death .


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