William George, Violent Theft > highway robbery, 9th April 1755.

Reference Number: t17550409-16
Offence: Violent Theft > highway robbery
Verdict: Guilty
Punishment: Death

168. (M.) William George was indicted for that he, on the king's highway, on Wassey Sterry did make an assault, putting him in corporal fear and danger of his life, and stealing from his person eleven shillings in money, numbered , Jan. 13 . ++

At the prisoner's request, the witnesses were examined apart.

Wassey Sterry. I am a member of St. John's Colledge, Oxford ; I was a little on this side Southwell , in Middlesex, in a stage-coach, called the Birmingham-coach. On the 13th of January last about six in the morning, the coach was stopt, the windows were both up, I was asleep at the time; the gentleman that sat next to me awaked me, and told me we were going to be robbed; soon after I heard something rap at the coach-window; immediately the gentleman that sat on that side let down the window. The person who stopt the coach demanded our money, watches, and purses; he had a pistol in his hand, but he did not put it into the coach.

Q. Was he on horseback?

Sterry. He was. The gentlemen gave him some money, and I gave him mine. There was a gentlewoman in the coach, but she did not give him any thing.

Q. Did he threaten you?

Sterry. No, only demanded our money.

Q. How much did you give him?

Sterry. Eleven shillings.

Q. Did you give him it voluntarily, or from an apprehension of being shot by him, if you refused?

Sterry. It was under that circumstance of fear that I delivered it.

Q. Did he go off then?

Sterry. He then demanded our watches.

Q. Did you give him one?

Sterry. No, I had one, but I did not give it him; after that he rode off.

Q. Look upon the prisoner, do you know him?

Sterry. I think I know him.

Q. What reason have you to think so? I observe at six in the morning, that morning, it was very dark.

Sterry. It was a very starlight morning; I think it was not moonlight.

Q. What cloaths had he on?

Sterry. I think it was a brown surtout coat he had on, with the hood on his head.

Q. What reason have you to know him so as you do?

Sterry. I don't choose to swear positively; I think he is the man.

Q. Was his face covered.

Sterry. No, it was not, the cape was flying from his face.

Q. Could you see the faces of the people in the coach with you?

Sterry. We had the windows up all the morning.

Q. Did he put his head into the coach?

Sterry. No, he did not; I could see his face the plainer by his not putting his head into the coach.

Q. from prisoner. How did the man take the money?

Sterry. I put it into the man's hat.

Q. Could you see what colour his horse was?

Sterry. I don't remember that.

Q. from prisoner. Which hand did he hold his hat with?

Sterry. I think it was his right-hand.

Q. from prisoner. What hand did he hold the pistol with?

Sterry. He held it with his left-hand, pretty close to his side.

Prisoner. I have lost the use of my left-hand these eight months.

Q. Have you seen the man since that time you was robbed ?

Sterry. I saw the prisoner in Newgate, and the prisoners were called down, six or seven of them, the turnkey stood by me; I said I believed that was the man in the red coat. He desired me to look again; I said, if that is not the man, I can't tell which is the person. Then the turn-key told me his name was George; it was the prisoner.

Q. What day was it you saw him in Newgate?

Sterry. Last Wednesday morning.

William Turner . I am the coachman that drove the coach that day the robbery was committed.

Q. Look at the prisoner; do you know him?

Turner. I can't say positively I do. I believe him to be the man that stopt the coach on the 13th of January, about six in the morning, and robbed the gentleman. I can swear to the horse the man rode upon; I took particular notice of him.

Q. What did he say when he stopt you?

Turner. He said, coachman stop; how many passengers have you in the coach? I told him I had four. Then he knocked at the window, and said, passengers look sharp; your money, your purses. I heard the money chink in his hat; after that he rode off.

Q. Did you hear him demand any thing after he had got the money ?

Turner. I don't remember I did.

Q. Could you distinguish his face at that time?

Turner. I could not very well, I sat so high on the box; it was a starlight morning.

Q. Did you ever see the horse afterwards?

Turner. I have; the man that owns him is at the door; I can swear to the horse.

Q. In whose custody did you see the horse since?

Turner. I don't know his name; I saw him in a stable in Scroop's-court.

Q. from prisoner. Which hand did the man hold his pistol in?

Turner. I think he held it in his right-hand.

Q. What sort of a horse is he?

Turner. A large brown horse, with a star in his forehead.

Q. How was the man dressed?

Turner. He had a brown surtout coat on.

Q. Had he any cape to his coat?

Turner. I believe not, but I am not sure.

Q. from prisoner. How did the man hold his horse?

Turner. I cannot say that.

Q. What hand did the man hold his hat in?

Turner. I did not see the hat; I heard the money chink in it.

Henry Ellis . I belong to St. John's college, Oxford; on the 13th of last January I was in the Birmingham coach with Mr. Sterry; about eight miles from London we met with a single highwayman.

Q. to the coachman. Was it about that distance?

Turner. It was; it was on this side Chevychase.

Ellis. He demanded our money and watches. I could not distinguish enough of the man so as to know him again; I gave him fifteen shillings.

Q. Was there ever a pistol produced?

Ellis. Yes, he held one in his hand.

Q. Did he put you in fear?

Ellis. Yes, my lord, it was under that fear I gave him my money.

Q. Could you distinguish his dress?

Ellis. He had a brownish surtout coat on, with the hood of it pulled over his head.

Q. Did it hide his face?

Ellis. It did some of it, not much of it.

Q. Did you observe his horse?

Ellis. Not much; he seemed to be a dark brown.

Q. Did you observe any other mark on the horse?

Ellis. No.

Q. Did he demand any thing else of you?

Ellis. He asked us if we had no purses? We told him we had none.

Q. What after that ?

Ellis. He muttered something and rode off.

Q. Was the horse sideways to the coach, or with his face ?

Ellis. Sideways.

Q. from prisoner. Which hand did the man hold the pistol in?

Ellis. I was a little surprised, and did not observe that.

William Weeden . I live at High Wickham; to the best of my remembrance, the 13th of January I was coming along with a waggon, a man upon a large brown horse met me just going into Hanwell common.

Q. How far is that from Southwell.

Weeden. Very near two miles.

Q. What time in the morning?

Weeden. About five o'clock, or a quarter after. He asked me whether the coaches were gone by or not? I said I had not met them. Soon after the same man and horse came back again.

Q. How long after this?

Weeden. About five or six minutes.

Q. What did he say them?

Weeden. He said nothing, but past me.

Q. What dress had he on?

Weeden. A brown double-breasted great coat on.

Q. Was it a moonlight night?

Weeden. There was no moon at all.

Q. Were the stars bright?

Weeden. Not very bright.

Q. Did you see him after this?

Weeden. Yes, I did; this third time was not above half a quarter of an hour after the second time; the coaches were gone along, and that man on the brown horse rode a good pace after them.

Q. How many coaches were there?

Weeden. There were three.

Q. Did you see him after that?

Weeden. No.

Q. Did you see him come up with, or stop any of the coaches?

Weeden. No.

Q. Did you ever see the prisoner before you saw him here?

Weeden. I saw him in Woodstreet-compter after this time.

Q. Did any body shew him to you?

Weeden. No; I then thought he was as much like that man that rode that large brown horse, as any man could be.

Q. Have you seen this brown horse since?

Weeden. Yes I have, in a stable on Holborn-hill.

Q. Are you sure that horse you saw on Holborn-hill is the same that man rode you speak of?

Weeden. Yes, I am.

Q. Did you take any particular notice when you saw him on the road how he was marked ?

Weeden. Yes, I did, the second time of seeing him I saw a little star in his forehead.

Prisoner. He came to the Compter with five or six people with him, and a man that knew me, said, (pointing to me) that is the man.

Q. Did any body shew him to you?

Weeden. The other men that was along with me knew him, and I thought he was the man.

Q. At whose house did you see the horse on Holborn-hill ?

Weeden. I don't know his name, but he is at the door.

Q. Do you remember any thing of the man's voice?

Weeden. No, I did not take any notice of the voice.

William Peteridge . I know the prisoner very well, he lodged within four doors where I live, that is in Scroop's-court, St. Andrew's, Holborn; I keep a Stable-yard, I buy and sell horses, but very seldom left them out. I left the prisoner a horse on the 13th of January, he went out at half an hour after four o'clock in the morning, as the boy told me, he said he was going to a linen-draper at Stains, a relation, and must go very early before the people were gone out; this he said when he hired the horse, so I told him if he called my lad he might have him; I was not up when the boy let him have him; he said he must ride gently because he had a same arm.

Q. What sort of a horse?

Peteridge. A sort of a brown bay, a darkish bay horse, above fifteen hands high, a star in his forehead, and he has a large Spavin on one of his hocks, and goes lame on that leg. Mr. Turner, the coachman, came on the Sunday morning, the day the prisoner was taken; I told him that George had such a horse of me, and he should see him when he came home, the horse was then out. I afterwards shewed him to Turner; he said he was sure that was the horse the

robbery was committed upon. The horse was taken out of the stable.

Q. Did Weeden see the horse?

Peteridge. He might, but I was not at home; I left word with my wife to let any body see the horse, if they came. This was the first time he hired the horse of me, he had him out six days; he brought him back on the Saturday following; he paid me three shillings a day; I have let the horse to him twice since.

Q. How long did he hire him for the first time?

Peteridge. He said he should want him only two days, and we agreed for three shillings a day. He was in town in the time without the horse, he told me my horse was safe at Stains, and he should go on Saturday morning and bring him home, which he did. The horse did not appear to have been hard rid when he brought him home.

Q. What did he say for his leaving the horse in the country?

Peteridge. He told me his cousin made him ride up in the coach with some valuable goods.

Q. When was the second time he had the horse?

Peteridge. It was the 23d of January; he went out in the afternoon, and he brought him on the Saturday morning after, about six.

Q. Did he give any reason why he wanted him a second time?

Peteridge. He said he wanted him to go to the Castle at Smallborough-green; he used to sell fruit, and I thought it was to carry some there.

Q. What day had he him again ?

Peteridge. It was on Shrove tuesday; then he said he wanted to see his father at Froom, and should want him ten or twelve days, and as he had used him well, I offered him at half a crown a day. He had him out in the afternoon, and kept him out eleven days.

Q. Do you know whether he went to Froom ?

Peteridge. I dont know where he went.

Q. What condition did he bring the horse home in?

Peteridge. In a very poor condition, his back was hurt very much; he paid me twenty-five shillings and six-pence for the time he had him. I told him he had very much abused the horse; he said he never rode him above thirty miles a day.

George Fishbourn . I am servant to Mr. Peteridge; I have known the prisoner about four months; the first time the prisoner had a horse of my master was on the 13th of January; he called me up at four o'clock.

Q. What sort of a morning was it?

Fishbourn. It was star-light, not very bright.

Q. What day of the Week?

Fishbourn. On a Monday.

Q. What time did he go out of the yard with the horse?

Fishbourn. At almost half an hour after four.

Q. Which way did he say he was going?

Fishbourn. He did not say any thing to me about that, my master had let the horse to him before.

C. Describe this horse.

Fishbourn. A large horse, dark bay, with a star in his forehead.

Q. How long was he out with the horse that time?

Fishbourn. He left him at Stains, he said; I don't know when he brought him?

Q. Had he him a second time?

Fishbourn. He had and brought him home on a Sunday morning about six o'clock, I believe.

Q. Had he him a third time?

Fishbourn. He had, and at his return, the horse looked very poor, and his back had been hurt; he had been rode very hard.

Q. Do you recollect whether any people came to look at the horse?

Fishbourn. Yes, there were; Turner came to see him, and said that was the horse on which a robbery was committed, on the highway; so also did Weeden when he came to see him.

Prisoner's defence.

When I went from London that morning, I went out about five o'clock, and rode for Staines; when I came there I found my cousin in trouble; he desired me to come to London on business for him. I came up on the Wednesday-night, and left the horse there; and went down again, and brought the horse up on the Saturday. I am lame of my left-arm, and have no strength in it at all.

To his character.

John Bishop . I am an orange-merchant in East-cheap; I have known the prisoner about two years; he has dealt with me for oranges and lemons; I never know or heard any harm of him in my life.

John Burdet . I have known him three years; I live in the Old-Change, Cheapside; he lodged in my house two years. When he came first he was a labourer; after that, when he had a lameness fell in one of his arms, he was instructed in the method of dealing in oranges and lemons. He behaved honestly all the time he was with me. I never heard of any dishonesty by him.

Q. to Fishbourn. What sort of a coat had the prisoner on when he went out with the horse on the 13th of January.

Fishbourn. He had on a brown great furtout coat.

Abraham Laud . The prisoner lodged at my house about three quarters of a year ago; he was very honest, as far as ever I knew.

William Morris . I have known him three years and upwards; he worked once for me as a labourer; he was discharged in the year 1753.

Q. to Turner. How came the prisoner to be taken ?

Turner. I took him up five weeks ago last Sunday, at his lodgings in Scroop's court, Holbourn. I had not known where to find him, had he not done another robbery near Oxford, and had been at Oxford two or three days, and there discover'd where he lived.

Guilty , Death .

There was another indictment against him for another highway robbery.


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