Edward Merril, Violent Theft > highway robbery, 16th January 1755.

Reference Number: t17550116-28
Offence: Violent Theft > highway robbery
Verdict: Guilty
Punishment: Death

79. (M. 1.) Edward Merril , otherwise Deleraunt , was indicted, for that he on the king's highway, on Collin Smith , Esq ; did make an assault, putting him in corporal fear and danger of his life, and taking from his person one metal watch, value 3 l. one pair of silver shoe-buckles, value 12 s. one guinea and seven shillings in money, numbered , his property, Dec. 9 . +

Collin Smith . On the 9th of December, between five and six in the evening, I was going from London to Barnet ; about a quarter of a mile on the other side Wherstone turnpike I was overtaken by a man in a dark brown coat, on a pretty large black horse; he presented a pistol, and bid me stop, and deliver my watch and money, which I accordingly did; my watch was a metal one; I delivered him a guinea, and about seven or eight shillings, and a pair of silver shoe-buckles which I had in my pocket. I requested him to return me a seal which was on my watch, which he did. I told him I was going a long journey, and desired he would give me two or three shillings to bear my expences. It was dark, I can't punctually swear to the prisoner; but I believe him to be the man.

Q. from prisoner. Had I any thing about my head or face?

Prosecutor. I think not.

Q. Why do you suspect the prisoner?

Prosecutor. He was taken the next day, with the watch and buckles upon him.

Benjamin Hobson . On Tuesday the 10th of December, about eleven in the morning, I being overseer in our parish of Epping, the prisoner's horse was shoeing at a blacksmith's shop; he was suspected to be a highwayman. A person came and told me; I went and viewed him. He was in very mean apparel, and had a watch, which was thought to be gold. I got the constable and apprehended him; and in searching him, I found a pistol in his pocket, (produced in court) it was not loaded. This watch I found also (produced in court, and deposed to by the prosecutor.) I found in his pocket these pair of silver shoe-buckles, (producing them.)

Prosecutor. I lost exactly such a pair the evening before; I believe them to be mine; but as there may be others of the same pattern, I will not swear to them.

B. Hobson. The prisoner's horse was a black gelding, about fifteen hands high, with two white feet behind. There was about seventeen shillings in silver, and some halfpence found upon him. I asked him if he had ever a friend that could come to his character? he said he had lived to bury all his relations, and had not a friend in the world.

Q. How was he dressed.

B. Hobson. He had a brown great-under that a flannel waistcoat, which he had bought of a salesman in Epping for three shillings that morning.

Richard Archer . I am the constable; Mr. Hobson came to me, and said there was a man at the blacksmith's shop, which he suspected to be

a highwayman, and charged me to go along with him, and bid me clap him on the back, and say he was my prisoner. I then charged him to assist me. I went and secured the prisoner. We led him to the sign of the cock, and in searching him found this pistol, watch, and buckles, a paper of powder, seventeen shillings and six-pence in silver, and six-pence in halfpence, and a ticket with which he had come through the turnpike at Epping. He had nothing to say for himself.

Prisoner's defence.

I bought the watch of a Jew for five guineas, on board the Lively man of war, five years ago; and the buckles about three years ago; but I can't find the person I bought them of.

To his character.

Edward France . I have known the prisoner ever since he was a day old; his father and mother kept the Turk's-head in Soho-square; I never heard any thing bad of his character; he had a good education; I think he was sent to sea about two or three years ago; his father is dead, but his mother, brother and sister are alive.

Robert Pratt . I have known him ever since he was a child; I never heard any thing dishonourable or dishonest of him.

Anne Pratt . I am wife to the last witness; the prisoner was born in my house; I have known him over since. The prisoner was fitted out by his mother to go to sea about two months ago; but did not go. I never heard any thing dishonest of him before this.

Q. to prosecutor, By what do you know this watch to be yours?

Prosecutor. The maker's name is Dudd; I can't tell the number. I also know it by the ribband being cut, to take the seal off, which was returned me; also by the gilding being rub'd off the back of the case, and the bottom to the spring that opens it was bruised.

Guilty , Death .

Upon Mr. Hobson's demanding the horse the prisoner rode, the act of the 4th and 5th of William III . was ordered to be read, wherein it appears the captor's being intitled to the horse, arms, money, and furniture, taken on the robber, except the same be feloniously taken before the robbery. By this statute, any person who lends or lets any horse to any highwayman, forfeits the same upon conviction.


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