Offence: Violent Theft > highway robbery
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415. (L.) James Brown , otherwise James Smith , was indicted for that he, in Middle-Temple-Lane , in the King's highway, on Ralph Hodson did make an assault, putting him in corporal fear and danger of his life, and stealing from his person one silver watch, val. 3 l. one pair of silver shoe-buckles, one pair of metal buckles, and one pair of shirt sleeve-buttons , the property of the said Ralph, July 30 . ++
Ralph Hodson . I live at Mr. Townsends', a woollen-draper, the corner of Durham-yard, in the Strand. On the 30th of July, between the hours of 9 and 10 at night, coming out of the city, a little in liquor, I stood leaning on a post in Middle Temple-lane to vomit, the prisoner at the bar passed and jostled against me, which caused me to look up; he laid his hand on mine, which was on the post, and asked me to walk down the Lane with him, saying the air that came from the water would make me better; I was perfectly able to remember all that passed; I went with him half way down the Lane, he kept about four yards before me till we got within about seventeen yards of the bottom; I turned to the waterman's bench to make water, on hearing him attempt to open the gate I turned about, and saw him walk very fast towards me; he violently seized me by the collar with one hand, and by my penis with the other, and said, By G - d, I have got you, you are a sodomite, and if you will not immediately consent to give me your money, I will swear that to your charge that shall hang you. I pushed back, and got his hand loose from me, and asked him what he meant? he said, Make no resistance, young man, I am not unarmed, which put me in fear of my life; he took my watch out of my fob; he having me by the collar pushed my head against the wall, and set my foot against the bench, while he took my buckles out, and a pair of buckles from my knees, one pair silver, the other steel plated with silver, and likewise a pair of silver stone buttons out of my sleeves; after which he said he would charge the watch with me, if I made any resistance or discovery, and carry me to Sir John Fielding 's, he being employed by Sir John, having half a guinea a week and 3 l. for every disorderly person he might discover or apprehend, which was allowed by act of parliament. He kept hold of my collar, and swore by G - I should go along with him; on
Q. Did he give any reason for your going with him?
Hodson. No, not then, but insisted on my going with him; he there asked me to drink, which I did not; he there saw Morris, a chairman, and asked him to drink, which he did, and left the box. Then he told me the watch and things he had got of me were of no value, and insisted on having 3 l. and he would return the things, and there should be no more of it; (he spoke low, that none could hear but myself) in consideration that he would return the watch and buckles, I told him I would endeavour to get the money of a friend. I recollecting the face of Morris, the chairman, that he had brought Mr. Hanway to my master's house, I asked him to go along with me; then Brown paid for the beer; we three went to Mr. James Sedway 's, at the Heathcock, a publick house in the Strand; the prisoner kept hold of my coat all the way, the chairman followed at some distance; Brown called for a pint of beer, we set down, he bid Morris have a pint to himself in another box; after which I asked Mr. Sedway to lend me 2 guineas, which he did, and saw me give it to Brown; he said, by G - that man will lend you 10 guineas, so insisted on having one guinea more, upon which Mr. Sedway lent me another, which he saw me give to the prisoner; I then asked Brown to let me go home, for I should lose my place and character, and desired him to return me my watch and buckles; he said he would not, for I was as much in his power now as ever, and I should never have them. He paid for the beer, and we went out, Morris following a little after; he swore I should not go home, but go with him; he took me to the Cock and Bottle in the Strand, and there called for a shilling's worth of punch, pen, ink, and paper, and said, by G - you shall give me a note of hand for 2 l. more, and I will return you your things again, and never speak to you if I meet you in the street, and take no notice of you for the future; he brought me the pen, ink, and paper, I denied giving him the note; he took it to the landlord, and desired him to write it, which he did, and Brown, in a low voice, swore, by G -, I should sign it; there was nobody in the room but the chairman; I set a name to it, which was William Thompson , by which I thought to get home, and be no more troubled with him, he swore he would see me home, he would not give me any thing again. Accordingly he saw me home, and appointed to see me the next day, at 10 o'clock, to pay the note, at the Hole in the Wall, in Chancery-lane, or he would swear to me, and get the 3 l. reward. I went the next day, and he was there, so he went with me to Morris's house, he was in bed, I desired him to go with us, (he knew where the chairman lived) and he was with us every time. I desired Morris to go with us to Mr. Arbuthnot's house-keeper, this was on Sunday morning the 31st, I went to her to borrow money to pay this note, he threatened to swear my life away if I did not give it him; I gave him the two guineas at the Hole in the Wall, before Morris came, I had that of my own; immediately upon this he insisted upon my giving him five guineas more, for he was going out of town, and would never return again, and insisted on my meeting him at the Thatched House that afternoon; I went home to my master's, and dined, and staid there till 5 o'clock, and then carried five guineas with me, which I had by me; then I asked him for my watch and things, he would not give them me, but said it was in his power whether he would give them me or not. We parted, and I went home, and heard no more of him till Saturday the 6th of Aug. when he sent Morris with a note to my master's house, for me to meet him at the Hampshire Hog, in the Strand; I went to him, he said he had spent all his money, and had taken a place in the Nottingham stage, to set off at 11 o'clock, and insisted on my giving him two guineas and a half more; he said also he had never a shirt but that on his back, and that he would have two shirts, and one linnen handkerchief of me; I told him I had no money, nor friend of whom to get any; he swore that any body would give the last farthing they had to save their lives, and insisted upon my pawning some of my cloaths; I told him I had none that I could spare; he said he would go with me to my master's house, and make me take them to the pawnbrokers, I took a coat and waistcoat, and pawned them for two guineas, at a pawnbroker's in Chandois-street, I dont know his name, and 8 s. I had, which I gave the prisoner, which made 2 l. 10 s. after which the prisoner and I went to the Hampshire Hog, there he insisted upon my giving him a note for 5 l. more, which I told him I would give him, but never pay it so long as I lived; I gave him a note of 5 l he paid for the liquor, and was in haste to go to the stage, he said he would never ask me for the money for the note. On Tuesday the 9th he sentAnn Deighton , (she being a friend and particular acquaintance) to come to me, she came accordingly, and said, she had shewed her master the letter; I told her a man had put me in there for a 5 l. note. Soon after she was gone Mr. Arbuthnot came to the spunging-house, and spoke loud, and threatened the people, withall telling me if I would tell him the truth, I should find him my friend, saying, he believed it to be a false debt, because he, or some of his family, had seen Brown lurking about his house; upon which I plucked up a courage, and told him the truth, the same as I told the court now.
Q. Why did you not mention it before?
Hodson. Because he swore, he would swear sodomy to my charge, and take my life away.
Q. As you was in liquor, was you sensible enough to know what passed?
Hodson. I was enough to know all that passed, I am certain of it.
Q. Had you seen the prisoner before?
Hodson. No, never in my life,
Q. In what situation are you in with your master?
Hodson. I am shop-man.
Q. How long have you lived with him?
Hodson. About seventeen months.
Q. What wages?
Hodson. Ten pounds a year.
Q. In what situation of life was you before you came to this gentleman?
Hodson. I lived with my father, who is a farmer, near Durham, till I came to my master; I was brought up in the country-business.
Q. Had you any school-education?
Q. As you had so small wages, how came you by so much money?
Hodson. I brought twenty guineas with me to London.
Q. You say you was not so far in liquor but you knew what you did, pray, tell me, how you came to go so far as you did, down a dark place, to the bottom of a lane, with a man you never had seen before?
Hodson. I thought his advice was good that the air off the water would be serviceable and do me good.
Q. I should have thought you would not have ventured yourself down such a place at that time of the night?
Hodson. There were many people passing at the top of the lane; when I went down I was very sick.
Q. When he first threatened you with that dreadful accusation of sodomy, did it frighten you to that you was absolutely in his power?
Q. Morris you say was drank to by the prisoner at the bar, you did not take notice of that at first, how happened it that you desired to have Morris with you?
Hodson. Upon recollecting his face, and being afraid to go out with the prisoner alone, I desired him to go along with me.
Q. You spoke of a note, what was that first note that was brought to your master's house?
Q. Have you got that note?
Hodson. No; I tore it immediately.
Q. Recollect the contents.
Hodson. It was only to desire me to meet James Brown there.
Q. The first time that he carried you into a public house, did you think yourself safe there?
Hodson. I did, but not safe from his oath that he swore he would lay to my charge.
Q. Did you see any weapon about him the time of the robbery?
Q. from the prisoner. Why did not the prosecutor have me taken up in the Spunging-house when I was under lock and key?
Hodson. He was taken up as soon as Mr. Arbuthnot heard the affair.
Morris. I brought him to the house of the prosecutor's master.
Q. You have heard the account of being at public house, with the prosecutor and Brown, is that true?
Morris. It is.
Q. Did you know the secret that was between them?
Morris. I did not.
Morris. I did, he was a grenadier in the same company that I belong to now.
Q. About the 30th of July do you remember seeing any body at the Coach and Horses in the Strand?
Morris. Brown and the prosecutor came in while I was drinking with the landlord, they called for a pot of beer, the prisoner asked me to drink; the prosecutor asked me to go down into the Strand with them, we went in at the Heathcock.
Q. When at the Coach-and horses did you take notice of any business between Brown and Hodson?
Morris. What was spoke was in whispers, tho' not much; they called for a tankard of beer at the Heathcock, and ordered me to call for a pint, and set in a box by myself. The prosecutor asked the landlord to lend him two guineas, after that he asked the landlord for another guinea, which he lent him, I did not see what he did with any of it; I drank my pint of beer, and they their pot, and went out very quietly; I said, it is very odd I be not paid, somebody should pay me for my trouble; we went over to the Cock and Bottle, and there had a shilling's worth of bumboe, or rumboe, or punch; they both began to write a note, and neither of them could write one rightly; they asked the landlord to write one, the landlord was in a back room, I think the note was wrote there, he brought it, and Hodson, I believe, delivered it to the prisoner.
Q. Did you see Hodson sign it?
Morris. I did not see him have the pen and ink.
Q. Who paid for the liquor?
Morris. I cannot tell.
Q. Did they both go out together?
Morris. They did; the prisoner said, he would see the prosecutor home. I asked the landlord, if the liquor was paid for?
Q. Did you know what the note was to be for?
Morris. No, I did not. The next morning, being Sunday, I was laying in my bed the prisoner and prosecutor called me up.
Q. Where do you live?
Morris. I live in Cursitor-street, Chancery-lane. They wanted me to go with them into the Strand; I got up, and went with them to the Hole in the Wall, in Chancery-lane, to have a tankard of beer; after that they went into the Strand, and from thence to White-hall, by Lord Pembroke's, in Privy-garden, to Mr. Andrew Stone 's house, where Mr. Arbuthnot's housekeeper was.
Q. Did Hodson go in without Brown?
Morris. Yes, Brown staid by the centinel-box without; after that we went into St. James's Park, by the bird-cage walk, the gentleman's back door comes into the Park; Hodson knocked at the door, that is all I know that passed there; we went up the Strand again, Hodson went in and got a shirt for the prisoner at the bar, at the corner of Durham-yard, I saw him give it him. Some time afterwards Brown sent me with a note to the prosecutor.
Q. Where did you see Brown?
Morris. I ply at Temple-bar, and have done years, he came to me there.
Court. Tell the words he said to you when he brought the note.
Morris. He desired me to carry it to the man I had seen before with him, to the corner of Durham-yard; accordingly I carried it, and left the prisoner at a public-house, I think the Hampshire Hog.
Q. Suppose you had not seen him at the door, how was you to have given the note?
Morris. I was to have given the note into his own hands, and to nobody else. When they came to the public-house they talked about money, the prisoner at the bar desired a note for money; they went out together, and left me there, they returned in about 10 minutes, and, to the best of my knowledge, he gave the prisoner a note for 5 l.
Q. How came you to know the sum?
Morris. They desired me to sign my hand as a witness to it, I heard them mention the sum of 5 l. then they parted, I saw nothing of them till the prisoner came to the Coach and Horses to enquire for a bailiff.
Q. Is this your hand writing?
Morris. Yes, I was witness to this note.
Q. When was that?
Morris. I believe it might be three or four days after, the landlord shewed me where a bailiff lived, which was in Clement's-lane.
Q. Did he mention his business?
Morris. He did not, he said he was going to serve a copy of a writ
Q. Did he say who it was to be serv'd upon?
Morris. No, he did not. I went to the bailiff, he desired me to go along with him, and sent me to fetch the prosecutor to the Green Man, in Half-moon-street, I lit of Mr. Hodson at his master's door, the message was that Brown wanted to speak to him; he came along with me, they
Q. On your oath was you ever privy to what passed between the prisoner and Hodson?
Morris. I know no more than I have mentioned, I did not know the business that was between them.
Q. What did you think of it?
Morris. I thought it to be a debt.
Q. How long have you known the prisoner?
Morris. I knew him when we went on the expedition to France.
Q. Was the prosecutor in any remarkable confusion?
Morris. I saw nothing at all particular.
James Sedway . I keep the Heathcock in the Strand; this day 7 weeks, between 11 and 12 at night, Mr. Hodson and the prisoner came into my house; I knew Mr. Hodson by his living with Mr. Townsend; they asked for a pot of beer, there being no company in the public room, they sat down there, believing him to be an honest man I brought the beer in a silver tankard, afterwards the chairman came in, and called for a pint of beer; I brought him a pint to a separate box; in about 8 or 10 minutes, Mr. Hodson asked me if I would lend him two guineas; he seemed to be much frightened, and in a consternation; I lent him two guineas; he trembled in a very bad manner; I saw him give the prisoner the 2 guineas; I kept walking about the room, and was as attentive as I could, thinking there was something extraordinary; in about 5 minutes after he asked me to lend him another guinea; I gave him another, which he gave the prisoner at the bar; they staid but about 5 minutes.
Q. Who paid for the beer?
John Arbuthnot , Esq; On the 9th of August, in the evening, about 10 o'clock, being at supper, this servant, who had been my housekeeper near ten years, (but at this time servant to a lady who was at my house) brought me up a letter, which she said she had received from a young man who was son of a reputable farmer near Durham, and shopman to messrs. Townshend and Altham in the Strand, the purport of the letter was, that he was arrested on a note of hand he had given, was then in a spunging-house, and desired her to send him 7 l. 10 s. to discharge the debt. I advised her not to send the money, but desired to see the person that brought the letter; (suspecting indeed at that time that the lad was connected with some set of sharpers; she said there was a bailiff, and a lawyer; when they came into the parlour, the prisoner, who had called himself the lawyer, said he was only an acquaintance of the prosecutor, who had sent for him two hours before to the spunging-house, and desired him to come with the bailiff to get the money from my servant; at this time I thought the behaviour of this pretended friend very suspicious. I then asked the maid-servant how long she became acquainted with the young man, the prosecutor? and whether she believed him honest? She told me she was intimately acquainted with his parents, who were very creditable people near Durham, and had always had a very good opinion of the lad; in consequence of this, I told the bailiff if he would let the young man go home to his master that night, I would be answerable for his appearance the next day, or would pay the money myself: the bailiff readily agreed to it, and promised me he should certainly go home; on which the prisoner immediately turned to the bailiff, saying, what! will you let him go without the money? but that is your affair, not mine. This gave me strong reason to suspect a fraud; and the bailiff seeming then to make some difficulty, I said I could do nothing more in it. The maidservant, anxious to get the lad home to his master, desired to have a man-servant go with her to the spunging-house, accordingly they set out immediately with these two men; some short time after they were gone, I began to be apprehensive that the poor girl might be ill treated by these fellows, I determined therefore with Mr. Leyborne, who was at supper with me, to follow them: (Mr. Leyborne is now in the country, or he would have attended here) when we came to the spunging-house, and asked for this young man, the prosecutor, they either did not, or would not understand, but threatening to go to Sir John Fielding , who would oblige them to produce him, the bailiff, who had been at my house, appeared, and immediately the young man was produced, who seemed much frightened, but as much rejoiced to see people whom he had reason to believe were come to his assistance. We went into the fore parlour with the young man, and were followed by the man who kept the spunging-house, the bailiff, and a woman; I asked if my servants had been there, they answered, they were returned to my house, to borrow the money of me, that the plaintiff would not release him till the money was paid down; we asked the lad what the debt was for, told
Q. Had you learned what it was for?
Mr. Arbuthnot. I found it was for a note of hand, and insisted on seeing the note; they told me the plantiff (as they called him) had it; I asked who he was? they said, it was the person who had been at my house; we said, we were convinced it was a fraud, and that the lad should not pay a sixpence of it; we told the young man if he would tell the truth we would procure him justice, if not, would leave him there; on this (while Mr Leyborne was talking to the people of the house the young man whispered me that he would tell me the whole affair; I then desired the people to withdraw, and leave him alone with us; they went out, and he told us the affair, just as he has now related it in the mean while we heard a great noise in the other room, and found the master of the house was turning the people out of his house; he immediately came to us, told us we must go out of his house; that unless we would stay all night, we should stay no longer there.
Q. What did the prosecutor tell you?
Mr. Arbuthnot. He told me that this man the prisoner came to him in the street when he was sick; that he was in liquor; that the prisoner persuaded him to walk down some lane with him, what lane I cannot recollect, nor do I remember that he mentioned any thing of the air off the water; that as he was making water, the prisoner seized him by his penis, and took the things mentioned from him, and said he would charge him with sodomy, if he did not give him a sum of money; that he brought him back to a public house, and made him give him money, and had continued to do so from time to time, I cannot recollect the particulars, for in less than five minutes time the fellow turned us out of the house.
Q. Did he go so far as to say, that this note was one of those that this man at the bar had extorted from him, before you was turned out of the house?
Mr. Arbuthnot. He did, he said this was one for which he was arrested; that he had from time to time given him several notes, that as one note was cancelled, he obliged him to give him another. I had indeed almost forgot to mention these very material circumstances, but the sequel of my evidence will make it appear, that he related the whole affair to me as minutely as the short time we were permitted to be with him, could allow of. When we were turned out of the house, we determined to go to Sir John Fielding , but finding it too late, resolved to go to the lad's master, Mr. Townsend, we told him the whole affair, as he had related it to us, and the part we had acted in it; the high opinion Mr. Townsend had of the lad, induced us the more to proceed, and accord ingly we appointed to go with him the next morning to Sir John Fielding , who told us he could not grant a warrant against the prisoner without an information from the lad, and that sending for him would give an alarm, that we must endeavour to apprehend the sessions; I then determined to go myself to the house (under pretence of paying the note to seize him, and Sir John Fielding sent a constable to Exeter Exchange to be ready if I wanted assistance. As I was going into Mr. Townsend's shop, to ask Mr. Altham to go with me, the prisoner passed me in company with one or more root-soldiers, I ran after him, seized him, and carried him before Sir John Fielding . When he was asked his name, he said it was Brown, on which Sir John said, is it for this I saved your life, when you was condemned at the Old Bailey for an offence of the same sort? his answer was, he assured him, that he had behaved extremely well ever since; he said, the Regiment he was in was broke. He was ordered to be searched, and in his pocket this note was found, which he said was a note the prosecutor gave him, on which he was arrested, and carried to the Spunging-house. Before Sir John Fielding came in, he felt in his pocket, and pulled out two letters, one for Mr. Townsend, the other for my servant, which he said he had received from the prosecutor, and was going to deliver. Sir John Fielding then sent for the prisoner out of the Spunging-house, Mr. Townsend took him home, and there he has remained ever since; finding the lad had so good a character, I made it my business to enquire very minutely into every circumstance of the affair.
Mr. Townsend. The young man the prosecutor is servant to me.
Q How old is he?
Townsend. I believe he is about 25 or 26 years of age.
Q. How has he behaved with you?
Townsend. He has always behaved very well since I knew him. I believe he is a very honest young man, he has been in town about 13 or 16 months.
John Fielding from the Spunging-house?
Q. What do you think of him as to his ability, I mean as to that of understanding?
Townsend. I think he is a very honest man, but not the brightest.
Mr. Hanway. I live at Mr. Townsend's. As to the prosecutor I have always thought that there was something of a peculiar simplicity in him, he appeared to me to be a man in whom there was no guile.
Q. to prosecutor. Look at that watch, do you know it?
Prosecutor. This is my watch, the same that I was robbed of that night by the prisoner in Temple-lane; here are two seals on it, one is mine, the other is not.
My Lord, I find my character was taken away about three years ago. After this man found I was come to London and had no friends, he was persuaded to swear a robbery against me to save his own life; I am informed he was told it might easily be done. As to imagine that if I had robbed this man, I would have arrested him and put him into a Spunging-house, is quite out of character. My Lord, I was drinking at a public house, the Antigallican and had had two or three tankards of beer in the back-room, there was a whitewasher in the house, making some alterations in it, we played several games at draughts, first for a tankard of beer, then a shilling, then we departed from that place, and came to the Coach and Horses at Temple-bar, there the prosecutor called for two pots of beer, then we departed, I have seen him from time to time; after that meeting him in the Strand, as I came over in order to be a chairman at Temple-bar, I was to give a guinea and half to be broke in, we drank together and parted friends, I never attempted to rob him in my life, we were intimate together; as we were walking up the Strand once, he said he had fallen down and broke his watch, and desired I would carry it to the watchmaker and get it mended for him; I said, no, you are sufficient to carry it yourself; I believe he gave it to some chairman to carry it to the watchmaker. There is a woman that heard Morris say, that the prosecutor would give him money to appear against me, and I sent her after Morris in order that she might speak the truth.
For the Prisoner.
Q Do you know Morris?
Matthews. No, I do not.
Q. Should you know him, was you to see him?
Matthews. I should. (six or seven men were all brought in together.)
Court. Look him out, see if you can see him.
Matthews. I see him (pointing to Morris.) I saw him at Newgate talking to the gentleman through the gate yesterday, which was Friday.
Q. What gentleman?
Matthews. The prisoner. I heard Mr. Brown ask him, if he had not seen the prosecutor give him a shirt? but I could not tell whether it was a ruffled one or not; I heard say, when I went of a message for Mr. Brown, where the gentleman lived; I did not see him.
Q. Did you hear Morris say any thing more?
Matthews. I heard Morris say, they could not hurt Mr Brown.
Q. to prosecutor. What did you do for buckles and buttons all the way you walked till you went home?
Prosecutor. I walked without, with the staps of my shoes hanging down, and put my straps within my upper-leathers.
Q. What did you do for money?
Prosecutor. I had no money in my pocket; I don't always carry money in my pocket when I go out.
Guilty . Death .
As soon as the Jury had delivered in their verdict, the right honourable the Lord Mayor returned Mr. Arbuthnot the thanks of the Court, for the spirited resolution which he had exerted in prosecuting this great offender to justice.
There the prosecutor, Parker, had been on a message for his master to Westminster, and was returning home, going up the Bird-cage-walk, about 6 in the evening, Nov. 28, 1759, T. Brown came up to him, and began talking of the fine evening, and warm
Henry Turner , servant to Lord Harcourt, happened to be going that way, he saw T. Brown join company with Parker, and J. Brown and Matthews scusking from tree to tree; suspecting villany was going forward, as he had detected J. Brown but the 1st or 2d of Aug. before, in a crime of that sort, and knowing him to be a desperate fellow, and that J. Brown knew him, he kept at a distance, and saw all that passed as before related; that he went to them when with the centinel, and bid Parker not be afraid, he saw all that passed, and would stand by him; J. Brown intreated him to go about his business, and not to trouble his head about it, and threatened to swear sodomy against him, and charge the centinel with him, and if he appeared in the affair, and he could catch him from home, he would swell his head, so that he should not be able to go about his business.
Mr. Anthony Gifford , in whose service Parker lived, gave him the character of an honest faithful servant as ever lived; and added, that before Justice Fielding J. Brown wanted to be admitted evidence, and could readily tell where to find T. Brown. That when T. Brown was brought he acknowledged there had been 500 of these kind of robberies done there, and mentioned abundance of gold and silver laced waistcoats, which they got from people whom they thus charged; and J. Brown, at the same time, acknowledged they had stripped one man quite naked.
J. Brown was found guilty, and received sentence of death, but afterwards received his late majesty's pardon.
T. Brown had the good fortune to be acquitted.