William Corbee, John Ayliff, Violent Theft > highway robbery, Violent Theft > highway robbery, 7th June 1753.

Reference Number: t17530607-11
Offences: Violent Theft > highway robbery; Violent Theft > highway robbery
Verdicts: Guilty; Guilty
Punishments: Death; Death

271. (M.) William Corbee , was indicted for that he, in a certain field or open place, near the

king's highway, on John Stubbs did make an assault, and him the said John did put in bodily fear, two gold rings value 5 s. one thread purse, val. one penny, one Spanish dollar value 4 s. one queen Elizabeth's shilling value 6 d. from his person did steal, take, &c . Feb. 14 . *

John Stubbs. On the 14th of February last Mr. Hart, the king's closet-keeper, his daughter, I, my wife, and Mr. Buckmire, had been to Covent-Garden playhouse, coming home between 10 and 11 at night through the field leading to Chelsea , two men came past and went before us, when we came in the narrow lane they turned back upon us, one of them took Mr. Hart by the collar, and with a hanger in the other hand told him, if he did not deliver his money he was a dead man; Mr. Hart said, if so, you shall have our money; then the other man came and took Mr. Buckmire by the collar. I was coming along leading my wife, that man had a cut-and-thrust sword, and seeing me by the side of Mr. Buckmire, he pointed out the sword, and swore, if I went an inch further he'd run me through; I said, I'd go no further. After he had robb'd Mr. Buckmire, he catch'd me by the collar, put his hand into my pocket, and took out 3 s. 6 d. then he search'd my, and took out a white net purse, in which went two gold rings, a crown piece, three half crowns, a queen Elizabeth's shilling, a pocket piece, and some other small pocket pieces.

Q. How near was the other person to you when that person robb'd you ?

Stubbs. He was about 3 yards from me, and was taking Mr. Hart's buckles out of his shoes, I saw him down on one knee at them.

Q. Can you tell whether the prisoner was one of them?

Stubbs. I can't swear that, but think he was.

Q. from Prisoner. What dress was I in?

Stubbs. In a flapp'd hat, and a sort of a brownish horseman's great coat, and soldiers cloaths underneath as they appeared to me, I saw something red.

Q. Was it light or dark ?

Stubbs. It was as light as ever I saw the moon shine in my life. When we were at justice Fielding's, after the examination, I told him my wife was frighted, and griev'd much after one of the rings, which she valued, and she is with child, and I feared the consequence would be bad: he said, I know where it is, come to me, and I'll get you the ring again. Since that, the accomplice, (the evidence) sent it me. Produced in court and deposed to, with the prosecutor's mother-in-law's name on it, and the date she died on.

Isaac Ayres . Corbee and I went from Westminster on the 14th of Feb. in the evening to Hide-Park, with intent to rob somebody, we staid there a great while and saw nobody, but going under the wall we saw these gentlemen coming from London, they went into the 5-fields, and we followed them.

Q. What time of the night was this?

Ayres. This was between 10 and 11 o'clock, we passed them some way and turned back again.

Q. How many were there of them ?

Ayres. There were 3 gentlemen and 2 women; the prisoner stopp'd one of them, and I the prosecutor, and took out of his pocket a net purse, two gold rings, a Spanish dollar, a queen Elizabeth's shilling, and I believe two silver groats and about 16 shillings in silver. The prisoner took some silver from the other gentleman, but how much I can't say, he took his buckles also out of his shoes. After this, we went cross the fields making the best of our way home, and shar'd the things. The prisoner sent one ring to pawn by his washer-woman and some of the things to sell.

Q. What had you for your share ?

Ayres. My share came to about 15 s. with the buckles and every thing (he looks at the ring produced) this is one of the rings, it is a mourning one, and was in the thread purse that I took from Stubbs. This ring was pawned for 6 s. the other ring he sold, but I can't tell where, or to whom.

Henry Peal . I went down to Durham with some others on the information of the evidence Ayres, and took the prisoner and brought him up by shipping, and when he was on board he told us of this very robbery.

Q. When did he confess this ?

Peal. It was 5 weeks ago last Sunday, he ask'd us what Ayres had said, we told him of some robberies, but Ayres had not mentioned this; then the prisoner said, we robb'd some gentlemen and two women in the 5 fields Chelsea, and he said, if we would search Ayres's wife we should find a white net purse with a pocket piece in it, if they had not made away with it, which we did, and found it in her pocket at Clerkenwell Bridewell. The purse produced.

Prosecutor. This is my purse, which was taken from me at that time.

Q. Do you know this purse?

Ayres. This is the very purse which I took from the prosecutor. Corbee had it a good while, after which I had it again, and gave to my wife.

Q. Who mentioned this robbery first, you, by the prisoner on board the ship ?

Peal He did, we there not know of it.

William Norton . I went Peal. He confirmed the with this addition, that robberies at the same time.

Prisoner's Defence.

The reason of my mentioning that robbery was they said Ayres was not submitted an evidence, and when I came to justice Fielding and that if I could make receive the king's mercy, so I told them I clear my conscience. The prisoner and Ayres were both soldiers.


Death .

See their trial No 69, 70, in this mayoralty.

272 (M.) He was a second time indicted, together with John Ayliff , for that they, on the king's highway. on William Clifton , Esq ; did make an assault putting him in corporal fear and danger of his life, one hat, val 1 s. one linnen handkerchief, val. 1 s. one paper snuff-box, two silk handkerchiefs, val. 2 s. one linnen stock one silver stock-buckle, and three shillings in money, from his person did steal , March 4 . +

William Clifton . On Sunday the 4th of March, my brother and I were coming to London, but were stopp'd between Pancras and the Turnpike about Nine at night, it was very dark. The first thing I heard was I thought the snapping of a pistol, which seem'd to be at the head of the horses. Then came up one man and got into the chaise, and was near a quarter of an hour in rifling it; he took out of my pocket three handkerchiefs, and a paper snuff-box, and also my stock and stock-buckle: he took my brother's stock-buckle, and also something out of my brother's pocket, which he put into his mouth, and said to him, did not you say you had given me all. It was so dark I could not see to distinguish any thing of their faces; there were three of them, one in the chaise, the other two on my side at first, but-one went on the other side.

Q. Is your brother here?

Clifton. No, my lord, he is not in town.

Q. Was this a chaise you drove yourselves, or was it drove by another person?

Clifton. It is a four-wheel chaise and a coachman to drive; after I heard that snapping, which I thought a pistol, the coachman said, have patience I'll make my horses stand.

Q. Did any person stand at the horses heads?

Clifton It was so dark I could not see what there were:

Q. Did they threaten you or demand your money?

Clifton. They d - d and swore they would mains, and bid us deliver our watches and: the evidence Ayres told me where my stock buckle and my brother's were pawned, which I sent he directed, and got them again. Produc'd in court and depos'd to.

Q. Had you light enough to discern whether they had their own hair or wigs ?

Clifton. No, my lord, I did not. I might have observed the person that came into the chaise, but did not.

Q. Could you distinguish the colour of their cloaths?

Clifton I did not. The man that got into the ch took to be a less man than Ayres the evidence.

Isaac Ayres . On the 4th of March about seven o'clock, Corbee and I went from Westminster, and in crossing the fields we met Ayliff the other prisoner, with a naked knife and a broomstick in his hand; he said he had had bad luck, there were so many people together he dared not attack any of them. As we were standing together I heard a coach, we went and found it to be a four-wheel chaise, and Corbee took a pistol from me, and went and stopp'd it

Q. Whereabouts was this ?

Ayres. This was above Pancras Church-yard in the hollow way, they made me rifle it. Ayliff went first by the head of the horses, and one of them hit him by the shoulder, and lifted him from the ground; on which he told the coachman, if he did not stand still he'd shoot the horse, and he did strike him across the nose with the pistol. I asked Mr. C lifton for his money, who gave me half-a-crown and a shilling, I was then by the side of the chaise, but afterwards got into it, and took from him his hat, three handkerchiefs, a stock and silver stock-buckle.

Q. How many men were there in the chaise?

Ayees. There were two men: we took a hat, stock and stock buckle from the other gentleman, and some money; after which Ayliff pull'd me from the chaise by my heels, saying they thought

they heard some body coming, so we went away, and going a-cross the fields, Ayliff went to get over a bank, but fell down, and the pistol went off, I thought he had shot Corbee, but stepping back found there was no harm done. We then went to Holloway with intent to rob somebody, but met with none to rob : Ayliff had one shilling of the money and went home, and left us with the rest. I kept 1 s. 6 d.

Q. What did you take from the other gentleman?

Ayres. I took six shillings from him, Corbee sent the stock-buckles to pawn by his washer-woman, whose name is Alice Walker , to one Mr. Wood. I told Mr. Clifton of them since, and he has got them.

Q. Had Ayliff stopp'd the coach before the horse bit him ?

Ayres. He had bid the coachman stop.

Q. What was your intention in stopping them?

Ayres. It was with an intent to rob them.

Q. How did you all dispose of yourselves after you had stopp'd the horses?

Ayres. One went on one side the horses, and the other on the other side; but am not certain whether Corbee did not come to the side of the chaise, and I believe he did.

Q. Was there a pistol snapp'd?

Ayres. No, there was not, it was only a blow cross the horse's nose: the stock-buckle was pawn'd for 1 s. 6 d. we had six-pence each of that; one of the hats Corbee had, and lost from off his head in an attempt to commit a robbery near Cranbury house, and the other was sold: in our sharing the things that other hat was mine, and Corbee gave me a shilling out of the half-crown.

Q. Where did Corbee and you meet that night ?

Ayres. We met first at a publick-house in Pye-street: in the pistol's going off the flint fell out, and the shilling that Ayliff had he took to screw it in again, which he bent in so doing, and then put it in his pocket.

John Speller . I having been attack'd and shot at by Ayres and Corbee near Cranbury house, where in the struggle one of them lost his hat, I went to Clerkenwell Bridewell and told the keepers there they were soldiers: they said they were sure it must be the two soldiers that were tried and acquitted in January sessions last, so I went to St. James's Park two days after and took Ayres. He produced a hat. This is the hat the person had on that shot at me.

Q. to Mr. Clifton. Do you know this hat?

Clifton. I cannot say whether it is my brother's hat that he lost or not.

Ayres. The hat we took from the other gentleman had a cockade in it.

Q. to Clifton. Is your brother an officer in the army?

Clifton. He is, and he had a cockade on his hat.

It appeared the hat had had a cockade.

Speller. When I went to justice Fielding, which I think was on Easter-Tuesday, Ayliff was under examination: the justice asked him how long he had followed that course of life; to which he answered about two years. The justice asked him if he was concerned in robbing a four-wheel chaise near Pancras-Wash the 4th of March; he said he did, and the horse had like to have bit him, and his pistol went off going over a bank, by accident, and that he had but one shilling of the money after some talk Mr. Fielding's Clerk said to him about signing the confession, Mind what you do, that may be hurtful to you on your trial: then said the prisoner if I am not to be made an evidence I will not sign.

William Norton . I heard Ayliff confess at justice Fielding's that he was one that robb'd the prosecutor; he mentioned several robberies besides this, after that we went to the publick-house, and there he said the horse bit him on the shoulder at the time he stopp'd the chaise, and when he was going away in getting over a bank he fell down, and his pistol went off.

Samuel Philipson . I was with the prisoners before justice Fielding. He confirm'd the testimony of the others, as to the confession of Ayliff.

Henry Peal and William Jones , being there also at the time, confirm'd the same account.

Corbee's Defence.

I think Ayres has sworn very falsely against me, I never saw the buckles as I am a dying man.

Ayliff's Defence.

The time that they say this robbery was committed I was at Maidenhead in Berkshire, at a christening of one of my brother's children. I never was with Ayres but once in my life, and that

was at Hollaway, where he got me fuddled, and in coming back he wanted me to be concerned in robbing a waggon, but I would not agree to it: he then said it would have been better for me if I had. I never drunk with him above five times in my life.

Both guilty ,

Death .

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