John Mason, John Welch, Violent Theft > highway robbery, 5th December 1753.

Reference Number: t17531205-39
Offence: Violent Theft > highway robbery
Verdict: Guilty
Punishment: Death

46, 47. (M.) John Mason and John Welch

the elder , were indicted, for that they, together with John Welch the younger, not yet taken, in a certain field or open place near the king's highway, on John Humphrys did make an assault, putting him in corporal fear and danger of his life, one silver watch value 4 l. one dead pig, one guinea, one halfpenny, and one farthing, his property , September 22 . +

John Humphrys. On the 22d of September going home to Islington about nine at night, I met a man, bad him a good night and he me; after which I walked about a hundred yards and met another man, who demanded my money, or he said he would blow my brains out.

Q. Did you see any fire-arms ?

Humphrys. I did not. I collared him and threw him down on his back: while I was tussling with him there came up another man and struck me over the head, I believe with a stick; he followed his blows after that I imagined with a hanger, and cut me in four places on my head; then he that attacked me first took me by my middle and threw me into the ditch; there I was stunned, and they rifled me; they took my hat and wig from my head, then my watch from my fob, a guinea, three farthings, a tobacco-box, spectacles and case, out of my pocket, and a dead pig which I had got for my Sunday's dinner. There I lay some considerable time in a gore of blood, feeling it come out of the knee of my breeches into my shoe. I got up upon the causeway very faint, and scrambled along, and in about five or six hundred yards met three men coming towards London, and begged their assistance, who saw me to my habitation though they were strangers to me. I cannot be certain to any of the persons that abused me; I believe the evidence here is the man that first demanded my money.

Hugh Kirvan Kirby. On a Saturday, I know not the day of the month, the two prisoners and myself and John Welch junior, met according to our appointment at the Blue Anchor in Bunhill-row; the two Welches and I had committed divers robberies together before, but Mason had not been with us, he being just come out of Newgate; he and I had done some idle things together before; we four went into the fields between Islington and London; there in a ditch Welch junior and Mason changed coats, then we went to the ladder-bridge about nine o'clock; we agreed two of us should stay there; so Welch senior and I staid there, John Mason went in the path Moorfield's way, and Welch junior went Islington way, both to be within our hearing; so that if a man came Islington way, Welch junior was to speak aloud to him and say, I wish you a hearty good night; and the other Moorfield's way was to say the same if he met any body: This was to be a signal to us at the bridge to know who to rob. Mason met Humphrys the prosecutor, and wished him a hearty good night, and spoke with a chearful voice that we might hear; the prosecutor came up, and I laid hold on him, but had a lame hand, having had it run through with a sword, so could not do much, and he got me down upon the causeway; I got him on his back in the ditch, and got his silver watch out in the struggle; but he would not give up his money to the prisoner; Welch took a hanger and pushed it at his mouth, which took him in the chin; I called out to him to let him alone, then Welch bid me cut his throat; I said there is no occasion, he is easy enough; then Welch junior said, two old women could have done the business sooner than you have.

Q. Did he come to you?

Kirby. No, he stood in his place; then Welch senior gave the prosecutor a stroke on the head first with a hanger, and after that with a stick; and he broke the stick and left part of it in the ditch; Welch took his money from him, but at that time he did not acknowledge it to us, but said he had no money. I staid a little while to search, and found he had a pig tied up in two cloths, which I took; after the next robbery Welch acknowledged he had a guinea and some halfpence from the prosecutor, and paid us.

Susannah Harvey . I lodged at the Two Brewers in Maynard street, I was out on a Saturday evening, and being come home asked a soldier who drawed beer there, where John Mason was.

Q. Why did you ask for him?

Harvey. Because I lived with him. He said he could not tell. In about half an hour after nine Mason came in and desired to speak with me; about ten o'clock or a little before, he bid me ask the woman of the house for some money, to fetch some things he had from a pawnbroker, that he might carry them to another where he said he could get more money upon them; I asked, and they lent it him; he took it and went out, and returned with some steaks, and said he had got more money at another place after that came in Kirby, and after him Welch

the younger; Kirby desired Mason to drink with him, which he did; then Mason ordered me to go and make the bed, I went and made it. The next day I heard they had a pig roasted at one Sparrey's opposite the Two Brewers. I saw the head of it.

Mason's Defence.

On the twenty-second of September I went over to the Two Brewers in Maynard-street, and wanted that woman to ask the landlady to lend me fourteen shillings to take out some things which I intended to pledge in some other place for more money; this money was in halfpence, and they sent the soldier with me to see what I wanted it for. I went for the things in West-street, Seven Dials, and carried them to Mr. Bibby's, a pawnbroker; they lay for thirteen shillings, and Mr. Bibby lent me a guinea on them, after which we went into Clare Market, and got a breast of mutton, and some pork steaks; then we came to Mr. Reding's at the Two Brewers, and had the steaks dress'd. At that time I believe it might be about nine o'clock, and I borrowed the money about seven.

Q. to S. Harvey. Are you certain as to the time you mention?

S. Harvey. The child was sick at Mr. Reding's, and a man took out his watch to see about its time to take physick, and I know it was near ten when the money was lent Mason.

For Mason.

Thomas Bibby . I am a pawnbroker, and live in Stanhope-street. The prisoner Mason was at our house on the twenty-second of September, and left some things for a guinea. I know it was about two or three hours after we had lighted candles, but will not pretend to be exact to an hour.

Q. What time did you light candles then?

Bibby. I believe about five, and look upon it to be about eight when he came.

Court. At that time the fun does not go down till about six; do you light candles before the sun goes down?

Bibby. I cannot be exact as to the time.

To his Character.

Nathan Patterson . I have known Mason about five years. Nine months ago he lodged in my house, at the Sun in May Fair; he was there for about four or five months, we looked upon him to be an honest man.

Welch's Defence.

I was drinking in company at the same time this man says I was along with him.

For Welch.

Elizabeth Blake . Welch the prisoner sent for me about eight o'clock on the twenty-second of September in the evening to the Rose and Crown in Church-lane. I did not go there till about half an hour after eight, we drank three single pints of beer, and staid till half an hour or three quarters after nine.

Q. How came he to send for you?

Blake. I was acquainted with him and his wife, and had not seen him a good while before.

Q. What are you?

Blake. I have a trifle coming in from a relation, and live upon my earnings. I am not afraid of my character, but am a very honest woman.

Leonard Jones . I have employed Welch two years last February at times in mending sacks and filling coals, and believe that he work'd with me the day before he was taken up. He gave his attendance daily when there was work to do. I have trusted him with money divers times, and he never wrong'd me.

Thomas Wood . I have known him two years, and employed him in mending sacks, but never heard any thing bad of his character.

Richard Irons . I have known him two years, and have employed him in filling coals. I have trusted him to carry out bushels of coals, and he has always brought the money to me.

Richard Miles . I keep a publick house, which Welch used, he always behaved well and civilly in our house.

Elizabeth Kelley . He lodged at my house between four or five years. I have trusted him above twenty pounds, and have not got it yet.

Both guilty . Death .

There were two other indictments against them for highway robberies; but being cast upon this they were not tried upon them.


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