JOHN WOOD, JOHN COBCROFT, WILLIAM FUBBS, Violent Theft > highway robbery, 7th May 1788.

Reference Number: t17880507-45
Offence: Violent Theft > highway robbery
Verdict: Guilty > with recommendation
Punishment: Death

374. JOHN WOOD , JOHN COBCROFT , and WILLIAM FUBBS , otherwise FIELDER , were indicted for that they, on the 16th of April , in the King's highway, in and upon William Frost did make an assault, putting him in corporal fear and danger of his life, and stealing from his person a guinea and 6 s. in monies numbered , the property of the said William.

The indictment was opened by Mr. Silvester.

(The witnesses were examined apart, at the request of the prisoners.)

WILLIAM FROST sworn.

I am a fisherman ; I live at Harrow-hill; on Wednesday, the 16th of April, about four o'clock in the morning, my wife and I and my daughter were coming to London in a cart; just before we came to the four mile-stone on the Edgware road , three men came up to us suddenly, and were going to bustle into the cart; one of them, that man in the middle (Cobcroft) got up on the shafts; I said what now, gentlemen? he said, your money or your life in a minute; and he pulled my hat over my eyes; the man at the farther side, (Wood) went round to the near wheel, and got up into the cart and frightened my wife; the other

prisoner held the horse, and my wife and daughter bustled all they could out of their pockets, and gave to the man in red coat (Wood); they asked me if I had got no money; I denied it; when they had robbed them, then Wood came to me, and said, let us see what you have got; and they stroked down my pocket; and he took out a guinea in gold, and six shillings in silver; they then got off, and I went as fast as I could towards London; they went towards Edgware, I drove on to the Bell, which is about two miles from Kilburn; I alarmed the man at the Bell, Mr. Herrington, to assist me; I described them, and he followed them.

Look at the prisoners? - I am very certain they are the men that robbed me and my wife and daughter; I am very sure of it, as sure as I am of my own children that was born of my wife, as true as God is in heaven.

Mr. Garrow. What sort of a night was it? - Moon-shiney.

You were frightened was not you? - It rather daunted me.

How long were they with you? - No great matter of time, it might be ten minutes.

What should they be doing ten minutes; your fears made you think it long, I suppose? - I don't know but it might.

You are equally sure to all these people? - Yes.

Describe again where they stood; one was at the horse's head? - Yes; and the middle man was on the shafts; and the other man held the pistol over us all the time.

Explain a little how you could distinguish three people, and one of them at the distance of the horse's head; you said, somebody pulled the hat over your face; how soon was that done? - Immediately upon their coming up; when they took the money out of my pocket; they bid me get upon my legs, and then I could see all the men.

You did not know either of these men before? - No.

You know the lives of these three men are at stake; do you mean to swear positively to three men, to their persons, under these circumstances, frightened as you was, not knowing them before? - Their faces were so perfect in my mind, that I am sure they are the men.

What sort of hats had they? - I cannot pretend to say; I was in a fluster and flurry, that I cannot tell what sort of hats they were; they might be such as mine.

Cocked hats or round hats? - I cannot say; I took particular notice of the men; I can swear to their aprons.

Court. What aprons had they? - Cobcroft had a leather apron; Wood a coarse wrapper, and Fubbs a blue apron.

They pulled your hat over your face as soon as they came up? - Yes.

Then what opportunity had you of observing the man at the horse's head? - While they were riffling my wife I lifted up my head, and the man threatened to blow my brains out when he came to rob me.

Do you mean to say, that while they were robbing you, you looked at the man at the horse's head? - Yes, I do.

SARAH FROST sworn.

I am the wife of William Frost, we were coming to town on the morning of the 16th of April last, about four o'clock; we were stopped in the Edgeware road by three men, who asked us for our money; we told them we had not any; they told us to let them have what we had in a minute, or they would blow our brains out; one of them, Cobcroft, held the pistol to me, I said, gentlemen, you may have what we have, don't use us ill; I pulled out three pence and my thimble, he turned my hand into his.

Who did? - Wood, the man in red, when Cobcroft held the pistol to me, he got up the wheel the off side of the cart; I was very much frightened, he went away then.

Look at the prisoners? - I am certain they are the men that robbed me, this man

took my money, that man held the pistol, and the other man held the horse.

Mr. Garrow. Are you quite sure of the person of the man in the green coat, Fubbs? - Yes.

Were you always sure as to him? - Yes.

How came you then to tell the Justice you verily believed Fubbs was one of the men that robbed your husband? - I swore to the man when he was present.

Did you ever say you believed he was the man? - I don't know that I did.

Was you equally certain to Fubbs as you are now? - Yes.

Always? - Always; I am certain sure they are the men.

How much is your husband to have of this reward? - We have been robbed very often before, but we never took any before; he has often been robbed upon that road.

Was you ever with him when he was robbed before? - No.

Did you come out that night in order to be robbed? - Yes, to be sure I did, because I was robbed.

Court. Did you come out that morning intending to put yourselves in the way of being robbed? - No, we had no such thoughts.

Mr. Garrow. Your husband had been robbed several times before, but you never had the good luck to catch any before? - Never.

Had you any conversation with any body about having been robbed before this happened? - Yes, to a great many gentlemen.

Did any body tell you, that you was out of luck that you did not catch some of the robbers, that you might have got forty pounds apiece for them? - Gentlemen said, it would be a good thing if some of them were taken.

Did not they tell you it would be a good thing for you? - No.

Were not you frightened at this time? - Yes, very much.

Had you in your fright leisure to observe the persons of those three men so as to swear to them? - Yes, safely.

PATIENCE FROST sworn.

I was with my father and mother at the time they were robbed in the Edgware road, we were coming along the road, three men stopped us, one laid hold of the horse, my father said, what now? gentlemen.

Which stopped the horse? - The man in green, (Fubbs) the middle man (Cobcroft) got upon the shaft and cocked a pistol at my mother and I, and robbed us, and the man in red (Wood) asked for my father's money.

What did they take from you? - A new penny metal coin, a metal ring, a thimble, and a bad shilling.

Are you sure these are the men? - I am certain of it.

Mr. Garrow. Have you often come to town with your father? - Yes.

Was you ever with him before when he was robbed? - No.

What made you set out at that time in the morning? - My father was going to market.

Did not your father go and tell Mr. Herrington to take the prisoners? - Yes.

How long might these men be with you? - I don't know, they bid us be quick.

You was a good deal frightened? - Yes.

Are you equally sure to the man in the green coat as you are to the others? - Yes.

What sort of a hat had he on? - I don't know.

What sort of coat? - I don't know, I am sensible they are the three men.

Have you never heard that there is a reward, if these men are convicted? - I did not come upon that.

Upon your oath have you ever heard that there was any reward? - I never did hear it, I did not come here for a reward.

Upon your oath have you never heard there is a reward? - I did not come upon that.

But you must come upon it before I have done with you. Upon your oath have you never heard there was a reward? - I might hear it.

But did you? - I don't know.

Upon your oath you never heard there is a reward if these men are convicted? - I have said what I have to say.

You must give me an answer, or my Lord will be obliged to commit you to Newgate? - I never heard any body say it.

Upon your oath have you never heard any body say it? - I have.

Who have you heard say it? - I cannot pretend to say that I ever heard any body say it.

Have you not heard Mr. Herrington and your father talking about the reward? I have heard Mr. Herrington.

Did you call at Kilburn-wells for him when you came to find the bill and come with him? - Yes.

When was it first that they talked about it? - I cannot tell.

Who began the conversation? - Mr. Herrington.

What did he say? - I cannot tell.

How many forty pounds did he tell your father there would be if all these men were convicted? - I do not know, three I believe.

Tell all that he said about it? - I cannot.

It is not three days ago you know; tell it honestly? - I do not know; I never heard him say any thing about it, more than what I have said, for I did not come upon that.

Did not Mr. Herrington say, that if these three men were cast, there would be three forty pounds? - I believe he did.

Your father and mother were both present? - They might be for what I know.

What answer did your father give to Mr. Herrington? - He said, he did not want any thing but his own property.

What did your mother say? - She said, she never wanted a farthing but her own property that she lost.

I suppose you said you should like to have a silk gown out of it, did not you, what did you say? - I never wished it; I said nothing at all.

Did not your father say it was very lucky he had got these men, that he had been robbed very frequently but never got any thing for it before; was that in the same conversation? - I believe it was.

What was it? - The three forty pounds.

You are sure that was all that passed? - Yes; I never desired a farthing of it.

Court. When your father said he did not want any thing but his own property, it was in answer to Herrington telling him of the three forty pounds? - Yes.

Both your father and mother said, they did not want any of the reward, but only his own property? - Yes.

You are sure of that? - Yes.

To Mrs. Frost. When was it you had a conversation with Herrington about the reward? - I had none at all.

You never heard Herrington say any thing about the reward? - I never did.

Never at no time? - No.

You never heard him say there were three forty pounds if these three men were cast? - Never.

You never told him you did not want any reward? - I have told people so.

But did you ever say so to Herrington? - Never.

Then if any body has ever said that you said so to Herrington, it is not true? - I never heard him say any thing at all.

Then it is not true, if any body, let them be who they will, has said so? - It is not.

You never told any body that you did not want any of the reward, but only your own property? - We have told other people so, but not Mr. Herrington.

You never heard Herrington say any thing about the reward? - No.

Who was you talking to then? - I cannot say.

Do you mean to say that the people you heard talking about the reward were total strangers? - I cannot tell the people's name.

I have not asked you that; I asked you if they were total strangers to you? - I do not know that I had ever seen them before; I have heard them talk about it since we have been waiting in town across the way,

here, but I don't know who it was, not of those men, but I have heard there was a reward so much to a prosecutor.

How much for each man? - I cannot pretend to say how much.

Upon your oath, did you never hear how much? - Yes, I don't know but I have in town.

Was that to day that you heard it? - I don't know, we have been in town ever since Monday.

When was it? - I don't know whether it was not at Hickes's-hall, on Tuesday; it was talked of in court at Hickes's-hall, by people as I stood by.

They said it would be a good job to you? - No, not to me, they did not mention these men; they said, every man that was prosecuted there was forty pounds a man; they did not say it to us, but we heard it.

Was that forty pounds for prosecuting them, whether they were convicted or not? - I don't know that.

Upon your oath, don't you know that if these men are acquitted you won't get a halfpenny? - I don't want any thing.

But do not you know that you won't get a halfpenny if the men are acquitted? - I have heard them say so; but I don't want any thing.

JOSEPH HERRINGTON sworn.

I keep the Kilburn-wells, I have kept the house seventeen years next Christmas; on Wednesday, the 16th of April, I was called up a little after four o'clock by Frost the fisherman, I threw up the sash, and asked him, what was the matter; he told me, he had been robbed on the Edgeware road; I desired him to let his wife and daughter go to the turnpike-house, as I had no fire at my house; I found I had never a saddle, I went to the Turnpike-house, and borrowed a saddle and bridle; I got my great coat and a pair of pistols; there were some waggons going by, I enquired if they had seen three men; they said, they were gone to Edgeware; I went to the Black-lion, West-end, and called one Scott up, and desired him to follow me to North-end; Scott came, but it was after the prisoners were apprehended.

Who went with you? - One Smith and Milkin went with me, and another man, who is not here; I saw the three men coming just by the Bull and Bush, North-end; we went into a garden and hid ourselves, while they went by; Milkin made an attack upon Wood, he ran away, and made his escape; Smith and I took Cobcroft and Fubbs; Wood was pursued and taken and brought back by one Collins; I took them all to the Bull and Bush at North-end, and there we searched them; I found upon Cobcroft three-pence halfpenny, this pistol, and Smith found another in his pocket, and some slugs and powder, and gave them me; we found two shillings and four-pence halfpenny on Fubbs, and this pocket-piece upon Wood.

(Producing them.)

Mr. Garrow. You keep a public-house? - Yes.

You have had the good fortune to bring several persons to justice? - I have.

How many? - I can't say.

Perhaps you can tell us how many of them have been executed? - I believe there have been three executed.

Of course you know there is a reward upon the conviction of highway-men? - Yes, as well as that you are paid for pleading.

Do you know whether the prosecutors of this indictment are acquainted with it? - They were never acquainted with it by me.

You never told any of them? - I don't recollect that I ever did.

Will you say upon your oath, that you have never mentioned it? - To the best of my knowledge I never did.

Have you ever had any conversation with them about the reward at all? - Not to my knowledge.

Perhaps you can tell whether within those two days, you have had any such conversation? - Not to my knowledge.

Could you have forgot it? - I am most clear I never did.

Upon your oath, did you not say yesterday, that if these three men were convicted, there were three rewards of forty pounds each? - Never in my life to my knowledge; I am clear I did not; I never did, nor never once dreamt such a thing.

I ask you once more, will you bring yourself up to swear positively you did not yesterday? - I did not.

Are you sure of it? - I am sure I never mentioned such a thing as three forty pounds.

You never had any conversation about the reward? - Not to my knowledge; all I have said about it is, that when the bills are settled, you must all contribute to it.

Did not you know that was not true? - No.

Did you not know there would be nothing to pay, but a great deal to receive? - Not for expences.

How much may you have received for conviction money in your time? - No great deal; I believe about seventy pounds.

Whether those people told you at any time, that they did not want any part of the reward? - I never heard them say it.

How long have you been acquainted with Frost? - Since last Christmas, or else I have known nothing of him, except going up and down the road.

This man is not rich I suppose? - No, people went a begging for him for relief, after he had been robbed, for him to go to market again.

LIGHTOW MILKIN sworn.

I went in pursuit with Mr. Herrington, after some men; we overtook them on Hampstead-heath; Wood ran away, I followed him 200 yards by myself, and Mr. Collins, a gardener, saw me follow him; he had a pistol in his hand; Collins took him before I came up; I assisted and we brought him back.

They were searched in your presence? - Yes, and a bad shilling, and a thimble was found upon Cobcroft.

What else? - I can't say rightly, except a brace of pistols.

Any thing upon the others? - Not to my knowledge; Mr. Herrington searched them all.

To Hnrrington. What did you find upon Cobcroft? - One pistol, some slugs, some powder, and three-pence halfpenny, that was all.

Mr. Garrow to Milkin. Have you been much with Frost in London? - No, except yesterday.

Was you by when they were talking with Mr. Herrington about sharing this money? - No.

Was you by when Mr. Herrington said you were all to contribute to the expences? - No.

How much did Mr. Herrington tell you you were likely to get? - He did not tell us any thing.

Who told you? - We were informed we should gain something by some men at Hampstead that had taken people.

How much? - Forty pounds for each.

Was you present when Frost and Mr. Herrington were talking about that, when Frost said, he did not want any thing but his own property? - Yes, just after we had taken them.

The old man said, he only wanted his property back, the property he had been robbed of before and now? - Yes.

The old man and his daughter were by at the time? - I can't say.

What had Mr. Herrington been saying to the old man to make him say that? - I cannot say.

What did Mr. Herrington say to that? - I cannot say.

Do recollect what Mr. Herrington said? - I cannot.

There was some more conversation about the reward which you forget? - There was.

Court to Herrington. You have told us what was found upon each of the prisoners; on Cobcroft one loaded pistol, threepence halfpenny, some powder, and some slugs; that was all you found on him;

on Fubbs you found two shillings, and four-pence halfpenny, and that was all that was found upon him; on Wood the pocket-piece that you produced; that was all? - Yes.

And another pistol was given you by Smith? - Yes.

To Milkin. What became of the thimble, which you say was found upon Cobcroft? - I don't know; Mr. Herrington had it.

Herrington. There is a thimble amongst the powder, to prime with I suppose.

MATHEW SMITH sworn.

I went with Mr. Herrington and the others in pursuit of some men; we saw three men coming; we hid ourselves, and when they came past we rushed upon them; I took Cobcroft, with a pistol under his coat, which I gave to Mr. Herrington; and he found another afterwards upon him.

What else was found upon him? - A knife, and a kind of a pocket-piece, that was all that I saw; I kept hold of him; I can't say what was found upon the others.

Mr. Garrow. Which of his pockets was the pocket-piece taken from? - The knife and pocket-piece were taken out of his waistcoat pocket.

You walked to town with them? - No, we came in a cart; Mr. Herrington rode after.

Did you hear Frost complain he had been robbed before? - Yes, three or four times.

Did you hear him say, that he wanted nothing more than what he had lost? - No.

Did you hear Herrington say any thing about the reward? - No.

You have heard there is a reward? - Yes; I have heard that there is forty pounds.

Court. Where were they when you first saw them? - Coming up Golders-green, towards North-end, in the Hendon-road, all three together.

MATHEW SCOTT sworn.

On the 16th of April, I joined in the pursuit, but did not come up till after the men were taken.

MOSES MORANT sworn.

On the 16th of April the prisoners were brought to Bow-street; I searched them and found one shilling, and two sixpences upon Cobcroft, and a halfpenny with two Britannias with inside his stocking.

To Mrs. Frost. What were you robbed of? - Threepence and a penny thimble.

Not such a one as you should know from any other? - No.

Was any thing remarkable in any of those halfpence? - One halfpenny was very much bruised, and two bits of black upon it.

Who took them from you? - Cobcroft.

Look at these halfpence, and see if it is among them? - No, it is not.

Have you seen it since? - Yes, at Bow-street.

That is not the halfpenny, (shewing her one?) - No, it is not.

Was that the halfpenny, (shewing her another?) - No.

To Patience Frost . What did you lose? - One of the new coined penny pieces, a ring, a bad shilling, and a thimble.

Was there any thing remarkable in your thimble? - It was brass with a steel top.

That is very common, is it not? - Yes.

You cannot swear to it then? - Yes, I can.

Is there any mark upon it? - None in particular.

Look at that, (shewing her one) and see if that is it? - No this is not it.

What sort of a penny was it that you lost? - One of the new coin.

Copper? - Yes.

Do you know the figures or letter upon it? - No.

Can you read? - No; but there is a particular notch in the head side of the one that I lost.

What sort of a notch? - It looks as if it had been hammered or knocked in.

Are you sure that the notch was on the head side? - Yes.

Look at that, (shewing her a pocket piece;) see if you know that? - No, that is not mine.

Is that yours, (shewing her another?) - No, this is not mine.

Was it that sort of coin? - Yes.

Is that yours, (shewing her another?) - No, that is not mine.

Is that yours, (shewing her the piece that was found upon Wood?) - I think this is mine.

Are you sure of it? - There is a notch upon the head side of this, and a scratch with a pin; there are so many like it, that I don't think I can swear to it; but this is just like mine.

Mr. Garrow. That scratch was put upon it before the justice, was it not? - No.

There was no mark put upon it before the justice? - No.

(The prisoners did not say any thing in their defence.)

Cobcroft called Thomas Mason , a clerk to a gentleman in the law, who had known him twelve years; Joseph Cox , who had known him seven years; John Eldridge , who had known him five years; William Youther and Charles Youther , who had known him ten years; and William Lambert who had known him five years; who all gave him a very good character.

To Smith. Had they any aprons on when they were taken? - Yes; Cobcroft had a leather apron on, Wood had a drab apron on, and Fubbs had a gardener's blue apron on.

The prisoners were recommended by the Jury to his Majesty's mercy.

ALL THREE GUILTY , Death .

Tried by the second Middlesex Jury before Mr. RECORDER.


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