James Cotes, Violent Theft > highway robbery, 5th April 1758.

Reference Number: t17580405-37
Offence: Violent Theft > highway robbery
Verdict: Guilty
Punishment: Death

193. (M) James Cotes was indicted, for that he in a certain field, or open place near the king's highway, on James Dunier 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. his property , Feb. 27 . ++

James Dunier . I am a Frenchman . I was in Marybone fields, near Cavendish-square about ten o'clock at night. On Monday the 27th of February, I was attacked by a man in a soldier's dress, who presented a horse pistol to me, and said if I mov'd I was a dead man. - Your money - and he swore a second time if, I spoke I was a dead man. I spoke only one word, which was nothing: I put my hand in my pocket and took hold of the chain of my watch, he said I must have your watch, upon seeing the chain. I was going to deliver it, he took it himself before I drew it out, he pushed me with the other hand at the same time, and said go along.

Q. Was you put in fear ?

Dunier. This put me in foar indeed. I was going to give him my money also, but he ran away.

Q. Do you know the person that took the watch?

Dunier. I did not see his face so as to know it. As I was going away, I saw two men and told them I had been robbed of my watch; but they gave me no assistance at all.

Q. How far distance from the place where you was robb'd?

Dunier. About twenty paces distance.

Q. What sized man was it that took your watch?

Dunier. He was a tall man in soldiers cloaths. I went next morning to justice Fielding, and told him I had been robb'd of my watch, and the name and number, about 8 o'clock over night, by a tall soldier about thirty-five years of age. The justice told me if he heard any thing of it he'd let me know. The next day I received a card from him to come to him directly, and that the watch was found. I was robb'd on the Monday, and he sent for me the Wednesday after. I went, he sent for the prisoner; but before the prisoner came he shew'd me a pocket-pistol: it was the same size of that which was presented to me; after that the justice sent for the pawnbroker, who brought my watch, the chain was gone; there was in the watch a little paper that I cut myself: the watch I well knew, having had it above seven years; the prisoner was afterwards produc'd, he is of the same size; but I will not swear to the man, only seeing his face as it were like lightening, and it was dark; the pawnbroker said he had the watch of the prisoner at the bar.

Q. What did the prisoner say to that?

Dunier. He said he bought it of a Jew in the high road.

William Humphrys . (He produced a silver watch).

Q. to Prosecutor. Look at this watch, do you know it?

Prosecutor. This is my property, the same I lost that night.

Humphrys. On Tuesday the 28th of February last, the prisoner at the bar brought this watch to my shop, and ask'd me to lend him a guinea and a half upon it.

Q. How was he dressed then?

Humphrys. He was in soldiers-cloaths. I ask'd him whose it was? he said it was his own. I said I could not lend him any money upon it, till he could bring somebody to make it appear it was his own; he went away and came again, and brought another man to his character, who said he believed it to be the prisoner's own watch; I said that would not do.

Q. Had you stopped the watch at his first coming?

Humphrys. I had. He told me where he lodged. I went to inquire about him but could not find his lodging; he came again, and upon seeing me he went to go away. I took hold of the skirt of his coat and pulled him into my back parlour, and told him he must go before a justice of the peace, to make it appear it was his own property, before he and I parted.

Q. What time was this?

Humphrys. This was betwixt five and six in the afternoon. When we were in St. Martin's-lane, he wanted to go and have some beer; I said when we were got a little farther he should have beer enough. Presently he got away from me, I took hold of him again, and said he should not go till we had been before the justice. I took him before justice Fielding; there Mr. Fielding's clerk told me Mr. Dunier had been there the night before, and said he had been robbed of such a watch; the prisoner was committed that night, and the next day carried before Mr. Fielding again: then Mr. Fielding ordered a man to go with me to the prisoner's lodging which we did, and there we found a horse pistol loaded. I was sent for to Mr. Fielding's the next day at one o'clock, there was the prosecutor; I shewed him the watch, he said it was his: Mr. Fielding sent for the prisoner, but I was not by when he was examined. I went away and was ordered to come again at three o'clock. (The horse pistol produced in court) The prisoner said the night I took him, he bought the watch of a Jew in Holbourn, before justice Fielding.

Cross examination.

Q. Did you know the prisoner before he brought the watch to you?

Humphrys. No; I never saw him before to my knowledge.

Q. Are you certain he is the man that brought the watch to you on the 28th of February?

Humphrys. I am.

Q. to the prosecutor. Was there any body along with the man that robbed you?

Prosecutor. No, he was alone.

Prisoner's defence.

This watch I bought of a jew in Oxford Road, and that is what I told the pawnbroker. He was a tall swarthy black man, with an old red coat on, much like a jew, if he was not one. I first bought a pair of sleeve buttons of him for a penny: he seeing me have some money, asked me if I would buy a watch; I asked him what he would have for it, he said three guineas and a half for it; I bid him two guineas, and at last we agreed for two guineas and a half. There was nothing to it but a bit of packthread and a key. As to this pistol, that is the property of serjeant Davis, he gave it me to clean for him, he has been dead about six weeks, so I kept it, knowing hi s wife had no occasion for it.

For the prisoner.

Ormond Lord . I have known the prisoner about a year and half; I belong to the same regiment as he does, the second regiment. Last Monday was five weeks I was in company with him, at Mr. Spicer's, at the Two Brewers, near St. Giles's Church, a public-house, from a little after five in the afternoon, till ten at night.

Q. How can you be particular as to the day?

Lord. I was going to inlist a young man from out of the country that day.

Q. During this time from five to ten, was the prisoner with you the whole time?

Lord. I can't say he was with me the whole time, he was out twice, but not longer than a quarter of an hour at a time.

Q. What were you doing all that time?

Lord. We were drinking.

Q. Were there any other person in your company?

Lord. There were only he, I, and another man, who came out of Hertfordshire. We parted all at the door; I don't know where he went?

Q. What might the prisoner spend?

Lord. I spent about 18 d. and the prisoner the same.

Q. What did the Hertfordshire man spend?

Lord. I do not know.

Henry Myers . I live in New Brook-street, near Bloomsbury-Square, near the watch-house. I was going up Tyburn-Road last Monday was five five weeks; the prisoner was buying a pair of buttons of a jew, in a dark red cloak; they asked me to change a six-pence, I did, the jew asked him if he would buy a watch.

Q. Whereabout was this?

Myers. This was just before you come to Oxford-market. The jew asked three guineas and a half for the watch; they could not agree, the jew came to three guineas, the soldier bid him two and a half, they agreed for that.

Q. What time of the day was that?

Myers. I believe this was about ten o'clock in the morning, as near as I can guess.

Q. How long have you been acquainted with the prisoner?

Myers. I never was acquainted with him; I was going of a message.

Q. Did you never see the prisoner before?

Myers. I never saw him before nor since till now?

Q. How came you to find him out?

Myers. Because he described me to his wife, what sort of a man I was.

Q. How describe you?

Myers. He said there was a lame person by, so she found me.

Q. Are there no other lame persons besides you in that part of the town?

Myers. I don't think there is a man with such a foot as mine, and to go with a stick as I do.

Q. How came she to find you?

Myers. I work about Holbourn, and she was coming by, and ask'd me if I did not go up Tyburn-Road such a day; I said yes.

Q. What is your business?

Myers. I go of messages in Holbourn and Southampton-street, and clean shoes.

Q. Did you look at the watch?

Myers. No, but I saw it had a key and a bit of packthread to it.

Q. What sort of a watch was it?

Myers. It was a white watch.

Q. from prisoner. Did you not pick up a paper that dropt out of the watch when I was buying it.

Myers. Here is a piece of paper, (producing it.)

Q. Had you no acquaintance with the prisoner before this?

Myers. I had not till I was subpoened to come here.

Q. Who brought the subpoena ?

Myers. His wife did.

Q. to prosecutor. Look at this paper do you know it?

Prosecutor. There was such a one in my watch when it was taken from me.

Q. to Myers. Had you not this paper from the prisoner?

Myers. No, I had not, I picked it up just before you come to Oxford-market; it lay on the flag-stones just by a door.

Prosecutor. There were two papers in my watch, one of them my own cutting and this.

Q. Which lay uppermost?

Prosecutor. This lay uppermost.

Q. to Myers. How came you to preserve this paper for five weeks together?

Myers. I put it in my pocket with the six-pence.

Q. Where has it been since?

Myers. I have had it in my pocket ever since.

Q. Have you seen the prisoner since?

Myers. I have since I was subpoened.

Q. How did he know that you had that bit of paper?

Myers. I told him there was something that fell out of the watch at the time; he said it does not signify, it was good for nothing.

Q. Had you any instruction from him to preserve this paper till to-day?

Myers. No, I had not.

Samuel Franklin . I have known the prisoner between nine and ten years. After the rebellion he came into the first troop of horse grenadier guards, I was in the same troop, but now I am in the second troop of horse guards, my lord Cadogan's troop; I always took him to be a very honest man.

Q. How old do you think he may be?

Franklin. I imagine he may be about thirty years of age. I have had 10, 20, 30, or 40 l. by me at a time, and he has seen where I used to put it; I have gone down to Bristol, and he has had opportunities of stripping me, if he would, he never took any thing of mine, was he out now, I would trust him as before. I know there are several more would have come to his character, had he been tried to-morrow, that could not come to-day.

Guilty , Death .

Myers was asked, after the verdict given, if he was certain to the time he saw the watch bought by the prisoner, be answered he was certain it was the last Monday was five weeks, at about ten in the morning, as before; he was committed to Newgate to be tried for wilful and corrupt perjury.

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