WILLIAM HAWKE, Violent Theft > highway robbery, 18th May 1774.

Reference Number: t17740518-26
Offence: Violent Theft > highway robbery
Verdict: Guilty
Punishment: Death

389. (M.) WILLIAM HAWKE was indicted for that he in the king's highway, on Charles Hart , did make an assault, putting him in corporal fear and danger of his life, and stealing from his person one shilling and sixpence and seven halfpence in money, numbered, the property of the said Charles , March 28th . +

[ Charles Hart .]

Q. What are you?

Hart. A gentleman : I live in May's Buildings. On the 28th of last March, between the hours of nine and ten in the evening, Capt. Cunningham and myself were stopped in a coach near the Half-way-house leading from Knights-bridge to Walham Green , by one man on horseback; he said to the coachman, God d - n your blood stop, or I'll blow your brains out! upon

which I let the glass down which was then up, and he put a pistol to my breast, and demanded my money; I had one shilling and sixpence and some halfpence loose in my waistcoat pocket; I gave him that; I had half a guinea in my fob, which I preserved; he said to me, God d - n you, do you give me nothing but halfpence! I told him it was all I had, and desired him to take the pistol from my breast. In the interim Capt. Cunningham was moving a pocket book from his right hand waistcoat pocket into his left hand breeches pocket, in which were bank notes to the amount of between four and five hundred pounds; he had twenty-six or twenty-seven, guineas in his breeches pocket, but being in liquor he refused being robbed, and said he would not be robbed; the prisoner saw the pocket book, and took the pistol from my breast, and said, God d - n you, give me the pocket book! he replied he would not give it him; the prisoner said, God d - n you, I will fire upon you immediately! Capt. Cunningham told him to fire and be d - d; he did fire within four inches of my head, and made a kind of confusion on Capt. Cunningham's left arm, but got nothing from him, his horse flew from the coach door, and I saw him feeling as it were for another pistol; I opened the opposite door, jumped out, and assisted Capt. Cunningham out; the coachman said to him, Sir, for God sake don't shoot my horses; he replied no, you are an honest fellow, I shall know you again, and he read the number of his coach, which was 745.

Q. What did he read it aloud?

Hart. Yes, he spoke it loud; he asked the coachman whether there were any pockets in his coach; the man replied there were; he got off his horse, and searched the coach; Capt. Cunningham with a small stick beat his horse, and d - d him for a scoundrel; when he was off the horse he had a second pistol in his hand I believe from the shortness of it, and which he held presented as to me, and swore if I came near him he would blow my brains out; I was then at the distance of five or six yards from him.

Q. Could you distinguish the pistol?

Hart. Yes: it was a fine moon light night. I must confess I was not very fond of going very near him; he got upon his horse again; Capt. Cunningham was till beating him with this little swish; the prisoner pulled the trigger of the second pistol at his head, within the distance of something less than a yard, and it missed fire; I threw a stone at him on its missing fire, and he rode immediately to town. He was taken a fortnight or three weeks after; I saw him the day he was taken.

Q. Had you ever seen him before he robbed you?

Hart. No.

Q. What hour was it?

Hart. Between nine and ten; the moon was near the full; it was very light.

Q. Are you sure the prisoner is the man?

Hart. I am certain of it: he was six or seven minutes with us from the first stopping of the coach.

Q. Could you distinguish his person?

Hart. Yes, quite clear.

Q. Could you distinguish his dress?

Hart. Yes: as near as I can charge my memory, the coat he has on now, with a waistcoat of the same, a hat flapped, with his hair hanging loose about his ears. I saw the horse afterwards, but could not swear to its identity; it appeared to be a dark one.

Q. Did he hold the horse by the bridle while he was in the coach?

Hart. Yes; Capt. Cunningham was striking the horse all the time; he struck the prisoner after he was upon the horse.

Q. I should suppose from your account of Capt. Cunningham's behaviour he must be much in liquor?

Hart. He was excessively.

Q. How came you not to draw the captain off from provoking him?

Hart. He was nearer than I was.

Q. You are sure this is the man?

Hart. Yes.

Q. What is become of the captain?

Hart. He embarked on the 15th of April for his regiment in Ireland. The coachman was at Sir John Fielding 's, but could say nothing to the identity of the prisoner.

George Smith . I apprehended the prisoner; I had an information where I should find him; I went to his lodging and found him a-bed, and five pistols and a cutlass lying in a chair by the bed side; it was in Rose and Crown Court, Shoe lane. There were two watches and other matters that are in other indictments.

Prisoner's Defence.

I am innocent of this affair: I leave myself entirely to the mercy of this honourable Court I have been guilty of affairs of the kind, but am

innocent of this. I am a jeweller by trade: I am twenty-three years old: I have a wife and two small children.

Guilty . Death .

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