Offence: Violent Theft > highway robbery
248, 249. (M.) Michael Ryley and Jonathan Dennison were indicted for that they, on the king's highway, on Thomas Smith did make an assault, putting him in corporal fear and danger of his life, and stealing from his person one hat. val. 8 s. and one perriwig, val. 10 s. his property , April 21 . *
Thomas Smith . I am a baker , and live in St. George's, Wapping. I was going home on the 21st of April, about 11 at night, by the Butcher-row in East Smithfield , it was a very moon-light night, the two prisoner and the evidence came cross the way, and Dennison gave me a blow on my side with a stick, and got behind me and seized my hat, I put my hand up to save my head, then Roley came and knocked me down, and took my wig; they had all three sticks, (a large stick produced) this is the stick Ryley knock'd me down with. Seeing nothing but death before my eyes, I called out murder and thieves; they never spoke, but laid me on in a violent manner; they ran away, but were all three secured in a few minutes time in the watch-house; I knew them all perfectly. At the Justice's they denied it, and said they did not know one another; soon after Dennison said, how could we rob this gentleman when we were all three in company together at Stepney? Ryley said the same; then they said, if they did do it, I had my wig again.
William Smith . I was the officer of the night. I had heard a thief's whistle, I went to look towards Tower-hill; coming back into the watch-house, I heard murder and thieves cried towards the Butcher-row, I made what haste I could that way, I saw there two or three men running as fast as possible, they had all got through the posts but one, I jump'd through, and whether I touch'd that man or not, down he fell, and I upon him, I brought him to the watch-house, that was Ryley; other people were pursuing, they soon brought in Dennison and the evidence. The prosecutor there declared, that Dennison and Ryley were the two persons that robbed him; he said, he was not sure whether Mates the evidence used him ill or not, but he was in company with the others. They had each a stick. I took out of Ryley's pocket this clasp-knife. (Producing a knife, the blade about seven inches long.) Before the Justice they all said, they did not know one another; at last they all owned, they came together from Stepney.
Abraham Tilcherry . I and Anthony Glyn were going from Tower-hill towards East-Smithfield on the 21st of April, about 11 at night, it was a moon-light night, we met with the two prisoners and evidence, they had three club-sticks in their hands, they made a stop and looked at us, I saw their faces plain enough; when they were ten or fourteen yards from us, going towards the May-pole, we heard murder cried, we were then as near the Butcher-row as it is cross this courtyard; these three men came running back again as fast as they could towards Tower-hill we turned and run after them and cried, stop, shipmate! what signifies stopping, said one of them, it is only a drunken man which we ran against and he fell down. Mr. Smith catched Ryley just by the watch-house; Mates the evidence ran up into a corner, I and Anthony Glyn took him; I left him in Glyn's hands, and ran after Dennison, he ran up a court and got into some small gardens, people out of the windows told us where, then Glyn came, and seeing him upon a place said, if he would not come down, he would knock him down; Dennison said, if he would not hurt him, he would come down, which he did, and Glyn secured him; the other two had not been out of our sight at all, but Dennison might have been out of our sight about ten minutes.
George Comberlidge . I came that evening from Clapham with my master, who lives about a stone's cast from the Butcher-row, East-Smithfield; just as we got into the house, I heard murder cried, I ran, and saw the prosecutor without hat or wig, I ran after the prisoners, the constable immediately took Ryley, and while he was on the ground, I took that stick here produced out of Ryley's hand.
John Branson . Thomas Williams and I were going from the Custom-House towards Iron-gate, on the 21st of April, about a quarter before eleven at night; the two prisoners and the evidence were upon Little Tower-Hill, they made an attempt upon us; Mates struck Williams, I prick'd Riley in the belly with my tuck, and I believe I prick'd Dennison in the hand. They all appear'd to be of the same company.
Ryley said nothing in his defence.
I think it is a great imposition put upon me, to let a man swear my life away innocently, I thought the law would remedy this. I defy any man in the world betwixt me and my great God in heaven, to say I ever wronged a man of a shilling; I have many good friends in London, and I have as honest a principle as the best of them.
Both Guilty . Death .