ROBERT DOWNING, WILLIAM WOOD, Violent Theft > highway robbery, Violent Theft > highway robbery, 13th September 1780.

Reference Number: t17800913-63
Offences: Violent Theft > highway robbery; Violent Theft > highway robbery
Verdicts: Not Guilty; Not Guilty

510, 511. ROBERT DOWNING and WILLIAM WOOD were indicted for that they in a certain field and open place near the king's highway, in and upon James Anderson feloniously did make an assault, putting him in corporal fear and danger of his life, and stealing from his person a silver watch, value 40 s. a pair of metal buckles plated with silver, value 6 d. a muslin neck-cloth, value 1 s. and one shilling in monies, numbered, the property of the said James Anderson , September 10th .

JAMES ANDERSON sworn.

I am a shoe-maker , and live in Vine-street . I was robbed on Sunday the 10th of this month, about half after seven, in the Long Fields, leading from King-street, Bloomsbury-square to the turnpike ; Elisabeth Bailey was in company with me. I was going from Little Queen-street, to her master's country lodging, which is near the turnpike, Tottenham-court Road. As I was going through the first field I heard some people coming behind me; I looked back, and saw two men coming up; the young woman was rather afraid. I walked a little faster till we got into the second field; then I heard the men walking faster. I thought we could not escape them, so I fell into our usual pace again. The prisoner Downing came up to me, put one hand to my back and the other to my breast and tripped up my heels, and I fell down upon my back; then he demanded my money. The other prisoner was with the young woman demanding her money; she was about two yards from me. Downing said, your money, d - n you. I told him I had got none. He said what was I doing here without money. I had a shilling in my breeches pocket; I took it out and put it into my waistcoat pocket as I lay on my back between his feet; then he pulled the watch out of my fob, and asked me if my buckles were money, silver he meant, at the same time he was turning my breeches pockets out, then the other prisoner left the young woman and came up to me. I felt one of their hands (I do not know which) at my waistcoat pocket and missed the shilling.

Did you lose any thing else? - Then Downing took the plated buckles out of my shoes; after I rose up he took my muslin neckcloth from my neck; I desired they would not injure the girl; they promised they would not; then they went back the same way they came, and I went on with the young woman to her master's lodgings; it was a wet darkish night, but not to dark but I could see. I am positive to Downing; as to Wood I am not positive, though I firmly believe it was him. I told what had happened to me to a man at the turnpike, who directed me to go to the first publick-house. I did, and told the landlord and two men what I had been robbed of, and described the men; there were several people went out to look after them, and I was informed they were taken at the Compasses, a publick-house, in Tottenham Court Road. I went thither and saw the prisoners there. I said those were the men, that I was positive as to Downing; they were searched but nothing material was found upon them; Downing offered no violence to me, but the tall man struck me on the eye. I did not see any weapons.

(Upon his cross examination he said he never saw the prisoners before; he was a little frightened but not greatly, as there were no weapons; that they were dressed in sailor's habits, and one of them had striped trowsers on, but as to Downing he knew him by his countenance.)

ELIZABETH BAILEY sworn.

I was going to my master, who has a lodging by this turnpike; at half past seven, in company with Mr. Anderson, in the first field, I saw two men coming on behind Anderson; we mended our pace; the men came running up; the short man ( Downing) put

his hand upon Anderson's shoulder, asked for his money, and tripped him up; then the other came up to me, and asked for my money; but I could not observe what the other did to Anderson; Wood took my buckles and pockets, and then he went to Anderson. I stood still; I was about two yards off; Wood struck Anderson on the eye and pulled the neckcloth from his neck; then they went away from us, and Mr. Anderson and I went together to the turnpike; it was light enough to see the face of a man, and I am certain to the face of Wood, though I am not so certain as to the other; Wood was dressed as he is now, and they both appeared like sailors; when we came to the turnpike Anderson told what had happened. The next morning I saw the two prisoners at the round-house, and was sure then that Wood was one of the men.

(Upon her cross examination she said that Wood had striped trowsers on; that she had never seen the prisoners before she believes; the time taken up by this robbery was about six or seven minutes; and that they seemed to be as much frightened as she was.)

A Witness sworn.

I keep the turnpike leading from Tottenham-court to Islington. On Sunday the 10th, the two last witnesses came to the gate and said they had been robbed. I asked where, and whether they should know the people? They said, yes; one was a tall man in a waistcoat, long striped trowsers, a jacket, and round hat; the other had a jacket and trowsers and was rather taller and thicker than the little one, and had curled hair and a cocked hat. I directed Anderson to the first publick-house to get a pistol, and he came back in five minutes with two or three men. I called upon two men who lived just by; I had intelligence that two men answering such description lodged at the Three Compasses, in Tottenham-court Road; I went for Grubb, the constable. Anderson being come back I went to the Three Compasses, and the two prisoners and several other people were there, but no others dressed like sailors. Anderson said, he would swear Downing was the man who robbed him, and believed the other prisoner was the other. The next morning Elizabeth Bailey saw them. She said, the ta- man robbed her; that the robbery was committed about two or three hundred yards from the turnpike gate, and it was light enough to know a person, if close to him; it had rained pretty hard that evening, but I do not recollect that it did at all when they came to me.

CHARLES GRUBB sworn.

I am a constable. I was called on at my house in St. Giles's by Anderson and others. Anderson said he had been robbed by two sailors, one a tall man, the other a short punchy man, dressed in jackets and trowsers. I went up Tottenham-court Road; then round the fields to the place where the robbery was committed, but found nobody there; then a person came with Anderson to me and gave information that two such men had been at his house and he knew they lodged at the Three Compasses; this led me to go thither, but they were not there then; after ten o'clock Dixon and I went to the Three Compasses again; we saw the prisoners there; we seised them. I sent for the prosecutor; he came and said, they were the two men who had robbed him; they were searched; three shillings were found upon one, and two shillings upon the other.

( John Dixon confirmed the testimony of Charles Grubb .)

DOWNING's DEFENCE.

I have witnesses to prove I was at this time at a different place.

WOOD's DEFENCE.

I was along with Downing.

For the Prisoners.

THOMAS EDWARDS sworn.

I am a cabinet-maker, and live in Tottenham-court Road, facing Mr. Whitfield's Tabernacle. I have known Downing six years. I have not known Wood long; he is just come from sea, I believe. Last Sunday was se'nnight they came together to our house at eleven o'clock in the forenoon and dined with me; at three o'clock, or rather after, I went out with them to the Duke of Grafton's head, near the turnpike in Tottenham-court

Road; we staid there till about ten minutes past seven o'clock; there was a dial in the tap-room; I looked at it; then we all together went back to my house; they staid and supped with me; we went to supper at about half past seven o'clock; my wife and I, and they two.

What distance is your house from the Grafton's Head? - A quarter of a mile, and they staid with me till half after eight by the clock at Whitfield's Tabernacle, for the dial just faces my lodging; they told me they were going to the Doctor's in Great Queen Anne-street.

Jury. What had you for supper; - Cold beef.

One of the Prisoners. And apple pudding.

What day was it? - Yesterday was se'nnight.

When did you see them before? - On the Friday before in the morning; I saw them go out; they lodged at the new inn, just by.

When was the time you saw them before that Friday? - They called in upon me almost every night.

JANE EDWARDS sworn.

I am the wife of Thomas Edwards . The two prisoners came together, as near as I can guess, at five minutes after seven o'clock; the chapel clock had struck seven when I was putting my children into bed; they staid till about half after eight, as near as I can guess.

Had they any thing to eat and drink? - Yes; some boiled beef and pye and pudding; they went from us to Dr. Medcalf's, at the corner of York-street, to see two young women.

Court. Had not you seen them before? - Yes; they were with us all day; my husband and they went out together to have a pot of beer.

What time did they first come to your house that day? - Pretty soon in the morning; they were at our house all day, except when they went out with my husband; they dined with us.

What time did they go out in the afternoon? - About four o'clock, as near as I can guess, with my husband; they came in with my husband all together.

ANN ATTMORE sworn.

I am servant to Dr. Medcalfe, in York-street. The two prisoners came to our house to see my fellow servant and I, being acquaintance; they came at half past eight o'clock, and staid till just after the watch went ten.

Did they come in sailor 's dresses? - Yes; they were very dry and very clean when they came to us; at the time the robbery was committed it rained very hard.

AMEY MERCER sworn.

I am likewise servant to Dr. Medcalfe.

Do you recollect these two men coming to your house on Sunday se'nnight? - Yes; they came, as nigh as I can tell, at half after seven o'clock.

Attmore. It was half after eight? - It was half after eight, it was my mistake; they went away some time after ten.

Was you an acquaintance of these men before? - It is about a fortnight since I saw them. Robert Downing was a very particular acquaintance of my fellow-servant, who is at home.

What a sweet-heart I suppose? - I do not know as to that; I did not know Wood, no more than I have often heard an exceeding good character of him from my fellow-servant, while he was at sea.

WILLIAM ALLEN sworn.

I am master of the Venus brig; they have belonged to that ship four months.

Did they belong to her at the time they were taken up? - Yes; they are honest sober men, and very attentive to their business. They asked my leave to go on shore on the Saturday night before; I gave them leave; I could safely trust them I believe with untold gold; they have been two voyages with me to Ireland. I shipped them both at Portsmouth I think in May; they asked for money on Saturday night before they went on shore. I gave Robert Downing half a guinea, the other five shillings; but the other had received his full wages, though I gave him that money.

(They called nine other witnesses who gave them all a good character.)

BOTH NOT GUILTY .

Tried by the First Middlesex Jury before Mr. Justice GOULD.

WILLIAM WOOD and ROBERT DOWNING were indicted for that they, in a certain open place and field, near the king's highway, in and upon Elizabeth Bailey feloniously did make an assault, putting her in corporal fear and danger of her life, and stealing from her person two linen pockets, value 6 d. a silver tea-spoon, value 2 s. two farthings, and a pair of metal shoe buckles plated with silver, value 6 d. the property of the said Elizabeth , September 10th .

(There was not any evidence given upon this indictment.)

BOTH NOT GUILTY .


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