William Harris, Thomas Marsh, Violent Theft > highway robbery, 23rd February 1757.

Reference Number: t17570223-29
Offence: Violent Theft > highway robbery
Verdict: Guilty
Punishment: Death

123, 124. (L.) William Harris and Thomas Marsh were indicted for that they on the king's highway, on Edward Hughes did make an assault, putting him in corporal fear and danger of his life, and stealing from his person one silver watch, value 3 l. 15 s. the property of John Seymore , February, 11 . ++

By the desire of the prisoners, the witnesses were examined separate.

Edward Hughes . About half an hour after three o'clock on the Fast-day, being the 11th of this instant, the two prisoners and two more in company followed me in King-street, Cloth-fair . I pull'd two silver watches out of my pocket (one was my master's property, John Seymore ; the other a gentleman's) to see how they went, for time.

Q. What are you?

Hughes. I am apprentice to Mr. Seymore, a watchmaker ; as I had them in my hand, one of the four, but neither of the prisoners, stole the new one (my master's property) out of my hand. I ask'd him what he stole my watch for; he said, d - n your limbs I did not steal it, and struck me on my breast.

Q. Did he take it by force?

Hughes. He did, he snatch'd it out of my hand; I strove to keep it, but could not. He gave it to Harris, and said, here watchmaker do you take this watch.

Q. Did he give you any notice before he took it?

Hughes. No, none at all; they ran away and parted. I ran after the two prisoners, as far as Smithfield. Harris call'd out to the other, and said, I can't open this watch do you open it.

Q. What became of the other two?

Hughes. I can't tell, they all ran away. I overtook Marsh at the corner of Charterhouse-lane, and told him I must have my master's watch; he pull'd another watch from his pocket, and said, is this your watch. I said no, that was not it. The turnkey of Bridewell came by, and ask'd what was the matter. I told him, those two fellows had stole my watch; he took Harris in Charter-house-lane. Then I laid hold on Marsh, and we took them before justice Keeling, but I was in such a fright, I don't remember what pass'd there, only this, they said I offer'd to sell the watch to them.

Q. Did you know the man that took the watch from you?

Hughes. No, I did not, I had never seen him before. I should know him again if I could see him, he was about the size of Marsh.

Cross Examination.

Q. Had the prisoners any conversation with you?

Hughes. No.

Q. Did any of them ask you if either of these watches were for sale?

Hughes. I never said I would or could sell one; that was my master's business.

Q. Are you sure you did not deliver the watch into one of their hands, to look at?

Hughes. I am sure I did not.

Q. Did no words pass?

Hughes. No, none, till he had taken it out of my hand by force.

John Seymore . Edward Hughes is my apprentice.

Q. What are you?

Seymore. I am a watchmaker; on the 11th of February he was going out to see his brother. I call'd him back, and said, take one of these watches (being winding some up) in your pocket, and bring it to time; it was to be deliver'd on the Monday following. He took it, it was a new one; he had another watch, belonging to a gentleman in Cloth-fair, to mend, a job of his own, which I allow him, to encourage him in his business; about six in the evening he returned home. He went up stairs and desired I'd go up with him. Then he told me justice Keeling desired to see me the next morning. I went, the two prisoners at the bar were there. After my servant was examin'd, then Marsh was brought in. Marsh said, they being four in company, observ'd my servant coming out of the Halfmoon passage into King-street, they saw him pulling out two watches, and one of them step'd up to him and ask'd if that watch was to be sold, or not; my servant answer'd yes, he had two to dispose of; the other ask'd him whether they were second-hand, or new ones.

Q. What did your servant say to this?

Seymore. He quite disown'd it, and said it was false. After that Harris was had in, who desired he might be admitted an evidence; it growing towards dinner time, Mr. Keeling desired they might be had down to Bridewell, and Harris brought again at four o'clock. Harris said he was ready then, and pull'd out a sheet of paper with I believe twenty or thirty robberies on it. At four o'clock I attended again, with my apprentice; when Harris told the justice, my apprentice offer'd the watch for sale, as Marsh had said before. Then the justice's clerk look'd my apprentice in the face, and said, Mr. Hughes, consider what an oath is, here are two young fellows brought upon a capita affair; it is a weighty thing, consider the oath you have taken, and answer me one or two questions I shall ask you.

Q. Was Harris present at this time?

Seymore. He was. The clerk said, did you offer to sell the watch, or deliver it into either of their hands. He then declared word for word what he said before. Harris was struck dumb directly, and wanted to be admited an evidence; but Mr. Keeling said to him, you equivocate in your account, I will not take your evidence. Harris said, if you will admit me, I'll tell the truth. The justice said; you have equivocated in this affair, how can I believe you if you drop your account thus. There was a gentleman along with the justice desired to hear his story. Then Harris said there were four of them together; they saw my apprentice come out of the Half-moon passage, and saw him pull two watches out of his pocket, and the man that robb'd him clap'd his hand to his breast and said d - n your limbs, if we don't rob you of them.

Thomas Margate . On the fast-day about four o'clock I was coming by the end of Charterhouse-lane, to go into Long-lane. I heard the young man here charge Marsh with robbing him of his watch. I said to Marsh, you rascal give the man his watch. He said I have not got it; he pull'd one out of his pocket and said is this it? Hughes answer'd that is not mine, mine is a new one. I insisted upon Marsh's going along with me, unless he'd give him his watch; and as I was bringing him down by the end of the lane, there came a gentleman in a blue-grey coat, and said, there was a companion of that man's he believ'd ran up the Cross-keys inn-yard, in St. John's-street. I had got Marsh by the collar leading him along. I left Marsh in the care of others, and said I'd go and search the stables; we went into the yard, but Harris was got behind the gate on the inside; and when we went in, he went out. He ran up into Charterhouse-lane, somebody told us they saw him. I went up the lane, and met a porter with him. Then we took them both to justice Keeling. There I heard Harris own the robbery, and also told who were in company with him.

John South . I live in Charter-house-lane; on the fast-day between three and four o'clock I was sitting in my house, in Charterhouse-lane, with my family, and my little boy reading to me. I heard somebody come blundering in at the door; he seem'd to fall down; my wife got up and open'd the kitchen door. There was Harris, who forced himself into the kitchen, shut the door fast, and got his hand upon the lock, and said there were rogues; my wife said what rogues; he said rogues. I was then very ill, but I got up from my chair, and insisted upon knowing what he meant. He held the door fast. I being constable, pull'd out a drawer about five or six inches, and took out my short staff, and said, I am an officer, and insist upon your going out of my house. When I got out into the passage. I saw four or five men standing; I said to them what do you want; they said there is a man run up

here that has stole a watch. I said, I have got him in my house, come in, and assist me. When I return'd back into my kitchen, the drawer that I had pull'd out a little, was then wide open. I saw my wife holding a watch up by a cat-gut string. Harris said, what do you come after me for, I know nothing of the watch. I order'd a porter to lay hold of him; he did, and took him away.

Q. Was you before justice Keeling, when the prisoners were examin'd?

South. I was. Harris would have made himself an evidence, but the justice would not admit him.

Harris. Did I not bid you deliver the watch to the owner?

Q. Had you a watch in the house before the prisoner came in?

South. No, I had not.

Ann South . I am wife to the last evidence, my husband was very ill sitting by the fire, and a little boy about eleven years old was reading to us; presently I heard a noise at the back door, and the prisoner came tumbling in; I went and asked him what was the matter, but he made no answer, and then shut the door, and said there were rogues. I said what rogues; he said rogues. My husband said, is it a press-gang, and said he'd see what rogues they were. He insisted upon my husband's not going out at the door, and had his hand on the lock, and said neither of us should go out; my husband said he was an officer, and insisted upon going out of his own house, and went to look for his short staff in a dresser-drawer; he did not put in the drawer after. I gave the prisoner a push, and my husband got out at the back-door. I look'd out at the door, and the prisoner was behind me. I heard something knock against the side of the drawer that was left open. I turn'd about to the prisoner and said, I hope you have not put any thing there; I put my hand in the drawer, and found a new watch under some rags that were there. I had not seen it but the cat-gut hung over the side of the drawer. My husband call'd a porter to assist him, and I deliver'd the watch to the porter.

Alexander Holder . I am a porter. On the 11th of February as I was coming down Charterhouse-lane I met Harris running as hard as he could run, and hearing the people call out a thief, I turn'd and ran after him. He ran up a passage, and into the constable's house, but I was not soon enough to take hold of him. Presently Mr. South open'd the door and gave me charge of him; and his wife put this watch into my hand, which is produced here. I took him to justice Keeling, with other assistance.

Q to Hughes. Look at this watch.

Hughes. This is the very watch that was taken out of my hand at that time.

Seymore. It is my property. I deliver'd it to Hughes that day.

Harris's Defence.

I know nothing of the watch, it was not deliver'd to me at all.

Marsh's Defence.

We were going to Rag-fair in order to go to sea; going through the Half-moon tavern, we overtook that young man with two watches in his hand. We asked him if they were for sale, and he said yes; he offer'd the old one, but said if you don't like that here's a new one; and he proposed to go into several public houses with us. We walk'd on to Porters-block, but went into no public house. He had the watch in his hand, and gave it me; then he had it again, and said if you have a mind to have it, look at it. I had no intent to do any thing of that kind; but one of them took it and ran away.

For Marsh.

John Snowden . I have known Marsh eighteen years.

Q. What are you?

Snowden. I live in Purpool-lane, am a farrier; he was brought up a barber and peruke-maker, and was very honest when he liv'd near me; he has been out of his apprenticeship above a year.

Q. When was you acquainted with him last?

Snowden. I have not seen him these three or four months, till I saw him in Newgate.

Sarah Godly . I live at the end of Tash-Court, near Gray's-Inn. I know Marsh.

Q. When did you see him last?

S. Godly. I have not seen him these 12 months.

Emanuel Hall. I know the prisoner.

Q. When did you see him last ?

Hall. I have known nothing of him these three or four years.

John Blackstock . I have known Marsh from a child, I never heard any ill of him.

Q. When had you conversation with him last ?

Blackslock. About a fortnight ago. I have recommended him to several places since he has been out of his time.

John Gummey . I have known him eight or nine years down to this time. I never heard but that he bore a good character.

Benjamin Thornly . I am employ'd in the tides. I have seen Marsh at Gravesend. He was employ'd as an assistant or extra man in the excise.

Q. When did you see him there?

Thornly. In July or August last. I never saw any ill in his behaviour.

Joshua Izard . I am a tide-waiter, I have seen Marsh at Gravesend in the capacity of an extra man in the excise. I know no ill of him.

Both Guilty , Death .


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