John Stevens, Violent Theft > highway robbery, Sexual Offences > rape, 8th April 1752.

Reference Number: t17520408-19
Offences: Violent Theft > highway robbery; Sexual Offences > rape
Verdicts: Guilty
Punishments: Death

228. (M.) John Stevens , was indicted for that he on the King's highway, on Elizabeth wife of William Humphreys did make an assault, putting her in corporal fear and danger of her life, and taking from her person 3 s. and 4 d. in money numbered, the money of the said William , March 28 .

Eliz Humphreys . On the 28th of March, something before eight at night, I was coming from Rotherhith to my house at Highgate. When I came betwixt Islington town's end and the half way houses ; I saw the prisoner walking in the horse path, leading two saddle horses: I was on the foot causeway; one of the horses was particularly little, the other not very large:

to the best of my knowledge they were dark brown horses. Something before I came near him, he got nearer the foot path. As I got right against him, the first word he said was where are you going. I made no answer; said, he, I want to speak with you; he said so two or three times. I said, I had nothing to say to him, he came to the foot path with his horses in his hand, and laid violent-hands on me, he put one hand round my neck, and the otehr on my petticoats; my apron he slit in the binding: I begg'd of him to let me go home, for I had a poor family in distress with the smallpox, he took no notice of that, but got me down and swore he would have his ends of me; he said, damn you for a bitch can't you hold your tongue; he used my mouth in such an indecent manner that he set my mouth and gums a bleeding I saw a man pass by on foot; I was in hopes he would help me; I called murder: no help came: the prisoner dash'd my head against the ground, pulled me by the hair of the head; he bit my shoulder with his teeth; I had a great bump on my head the next day: in the struggling I was up once, and then I saw the man that passed by in light colour'd cloaths, standing on the causeway at a distance. The prisoner got me down a second time, and pulled me about so monstruosly, that I can hardly express it; I begg'd of him to shew me mercy, and told him that his mother was a woman. When he had satisfied his lust he let me get up a second time: after I had got from him, he called after me, and asked me, what money I had got about me, I had 3 s. and 10 d. in my pocket; thinks I, this villain will take it, I put a six-pence in my bosom, and said, I have no money; I shewed him my pocket, he took out two shillings, and two six-pences, and four-pence in copper, I had a small parcel of lobsters and cross-buns, and told him it was nothing but victuals, which my mistress had given me where I had been at work ; he said, take it, and go about your business while you are well. Then I went to the half-way houses, all three of them, to get a person to go along with me to Highate; at the Pyde-Bull, which is the second house, they told me, there was a man just gone from thence to Highgate, which they thought I might overtake; at the farthest of the three I got a man to go, and paid him before hand 3 d. out of the 6 d. I had in my bosom; he went with me almost to the Black-Dog at Highgate; I sent him back and went home, but told no-body of what had happened. I did appoint to come home on the Friday night, but on the account of Miss Jeffreys being executed I staid till Saturday: My husband being come from the pay-table and being a little in liquor, I did not tell him my misfortune that night, but on the sabbath-day morning I acquainted him with it; and told him the man was a very particular man, had on a brown stable frock, an hostler's cap, a strip'd waistcoat, and that he had no heard no his face, and a sawney looking whelp, and that if he trac'd the road he might find him.

Q. What do you mean by sawney ?

E. Humphreys. His face shone yellowish. My husband got up in great wrath, and went to the Queen's head at Holloway ; and as I told him of the two horses, he there was told, the horses belonged to the Dunstable waggon ( she not being with her husband could not be admitted to give evidence of hearsay) after my husband came home he told me he had seen the man, and knew where to find him. On the Monday, which was Easter-Monday, I went to his master's stable, at the White-hart, in St. John's-street, where he was hostler; I saw him, and asked him, if there was a Bedfordshire waggon came in that day; he said, there would be one in the afternoon; I asked him, what the price would be to go to Biggleswade or Temslord: he said, if I came about three or four in the afternoon I might see the waggoner ; then I went out of the yard and told my husband, I was sure he was the man; my husband then went and laid hold of him, and so did I, and I said, you are the villian that used me ill on Saturday night and took my money; he asked me, what money?

Q. During this ill treatment of you, what became of the horses?

E. Humphreys. They were grasing on the side of the causeway all the while, they were near me, I call'd out in the time, the horses would tread upon me, he said, they should not hurt me.

Q. Were they tied?

E Humphreys. They were not, except the bridles were tied together, they were near me all the while.

Cross examined.

Q. Was the causeway near the high road?

E. Humphreys. It was.

Q. Which way was he going with the horses ?

E. Humphreys. He was coming from Highgate to London.

Q. Whereabouts in the road was this?

E. Humphreys. It was something before I came to the first bridge.

Q. How far from any house?

E. Humphreys. About two or three hundred yards from the houses.

Q. Was there no people passing?

E. Humphreys. There was no-body passed by at the time, but that man I mentioned.

Q. When you was up and saw that man, how far was he from you?

E. Humphreys. He was farther than the length of the sessions-house, perhaps twice the length.

Q. How far had you gone from the prisoner when he came up and took your money.

E. Humphreys. I had gone farther than the length of this court.

Q. Did you see the stranger then?

E. Humphreys. No, I did not.

Q. Did he mount the horses afterwards.

E. Humphreys. I did not observe that.

Q. Which way did he go afterwards?

E. Humphreys. He went for London.

Q. Why did not you tell the people where you called, you had been robbed?

E. Humphreys. I was very much shocked afterwards, and have been ever since.

Q. Why did you not tell your neighbours at home that you had been robbed?

E. Humphreys. It was late, between nine and ten, when I got home, and I never had been in such an affair before.

Q. Did you, or did you not, ask for an hostler, who had a farm to let in the country?

E. Humphreys. No: I never said such a thing.

Q. How near was that stranger to you when he past by?

E. Humphreys. I am sure he was as near to me, as I am to that gentleman. Pointing to a gentleman about two yards from her.

Q. What prevented your calling to him?

E. Humphreys. I did call out murder and all could cry.

Q. Was that stranger nearer Highgate or Islington, when you saw him?

E. Humphreys. He was nearer Islington.

Thomas Tipping . I live in Hatton-Garden. I was coming from Holloway home, betwixt eight and nine o'clock in the evening: near the end of the back-lane I heard a woman groan; I staid some time to consider whether I should go forwards or not: I then went on and went close by them: the woman was down upon her back, her cloaths up, her legs open, and the man upon her; she said, for God's sake, master, help; Murder! Murder! the man said, hold your tongue, you bitch. There were two horses grasing on a bank close by them in the foot path.

Q. What sort of horses?

Tipping. One was a little poney, the other larger, I judge about fourteen hands high: by what I could discover, I thought the man had hold of the bridles, or the halters. I was afraid there was something more in it than should be, so I dar'd not stay to assist.

Q. Was it light or dark?

Tipping. It was a star-light night, but I had not light enough to distinguish so as to know their persons: I saw the man had a pair of leather breeches on, and a hostler's frock and cap.

Q. What colour was the frock ?

Tipping. I did not observe that.

Q. What coloured cloaths had you on.

Tipping. I had the same on, I have now ( i. e. very light colour'd.)

Cross examined.

Q. Which way was you going?

Tipping. I was coming for London.

Q. How came it, that you saw a man and woman in this situation and did not assist?

Tipping. Because there are so many traps laid to draw people in, such as stratagems of women crying out, and the like.

Q. How did this appear?

Tipping. The man seem'd to be lying with her, and the woman crying out: and by seeing the two horses, I imagined there might be more hard by.

Q. How near was you to them, when you first heard it?

Tipping. I believe I was within thirty or forty yards of them.

Q. How far was you on the other side, when you made a stop?

Tipping. I was thirty yards from them.

Q. How came you to find them out to give your evidence?

Tipping. I read in the paper that a man was taken up, and hearing the woman was one of a good character, I sent a letter up to her.

Q Did you see the woman when she was upon her legs ?

Tipping I did not, they were on the other side the nor from me; I could not see whether they were up or no.

Q. When did you first relate this affair?

Tipping I related it to two or three people that evening.

Q. Why did not you, when you got to the houses, alarm the people?

Tipping. When I got to the first house, I did design to go in, but I saw at that time a man, which I supposed to be the man, came riding by full speed, so I did not go in.

Q. When he pass'd you, had he any similitude to the prisoner ?

Tipping. I had not an idea enough of him to know that.

Q. When did you send word to the prosecutrix of your coming by at the time?

Tipping. I sent word on the Wednesday following.

Q. Had you seen the woman before?

Tipping. I never saw her till I sent the letter.

Q. Did you meet any other people on the road at this time?

Tipping. No, I did not see any body.

Ann Fletcher . I live at the Queen's-Head at Holloway, beyond the Half-way-house; the prisoner was at my house that night, about a quarter of an hour before eight, which was Easter-eve, and drank a quartern of gin; he was going towards London, with two blackish horses, both of them had saddles and bridles; one of the horses was a very small one.

Q. How was he cloathed?

Fletcher. He had on a dark fustian frock and a jockey's cap.

Cross examined.

Q. Are you sure it was the prisoner at the bar ?

Fletcher. I am sure it was.

Q. Was it a light or a dark night?

Fletcher. It was a very star-light evening.

Prisoner's Defence.

I know nothing of this woman, I never saw her in my life before; I went along with my master to bring the horses back; I called at Holloway and drank; I was at home and in bed before eight o'clock.

To his Character.

William Munns I have known the prisoner between four and five years; he was bred a butcher; he has lodged at my house; I never knew but he was a sober, honest, industrious man.

Lawrence Fothergay . I have known him upwards of four years; he is an honest, harmless, inoffensive fellow.

John Comings . I keep the White-hart Inn in St. John's-street; the prisoner was my hostier; I have known him upwards of two years; he has lived with me going on of a year and a quarter ; he behaved very well ever since I knew him.

Q. Had he any horses on the road on Saturday Easter evening?

Comings. He had the horses belonging to the guest, two carriers, who sent them to my house.

Q. Were they bridled and saddled?

Comings. I believe they were.

Q. Was one less than the other?

Comings. It was a pretty deal less.

Q. What time did he come in?

Comings. I can't tell the time, they told me it was about eight o'clock.

Q. Who told you so?

Comings. The cook told me so, I did not see him that night.

Thomas Kilingly and Mrs Ruso gave him a good character.

Mary White , Hannah Boroughs , and Ann Jordan , were called to the character of the prosecutrix, who had each known her about twelve years, and gave her the character of a very honest, sober, industrious woman.

Guilty , Death .

There was another indictment against him for the rape , but it being needless to try him on it, it was omitted .


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