WILLIAM THOMPSON, Violent Theft > highway robbery, 19th June 1799.

Reference Number: t17990619-54
Offence: Violent Theft > highway robbery
Verdict: Not Guilty

371. WILLIAM THOMPSON was indicted for making an assault on the King's highway on Francis Hazel , on the 20th of May , putting him in fear, and taking from his person, and against his will, a leather pocket-book, value 1d. and several Bills of Exchange, to the value of 50l. his property .

FRANCIS HAZEL sworn. - I keep a lodging-house in Woodstock-court, near the top of Bond-street: On Monday, the 20th of May, at night, near twelve o'clock, near John-street, Oxford-road , I was going home with a friend, Mr. Webb, we were talking, and in the interim a person came to my side, and I thought I felt a man's hand in my pocket; I turned round, and I caught hold of his coat, and said, you have got my pocket-book; says he, I know nothing of your pocket-book; I said, give me my pocket-book; my friend, Webb, said, why don't you lay hold of him by the collar; I said, the second time, why don't you give me my pocket-book, for I am ruined, and then I laid hold of him by the collar, and held him till the watchman came up; I delivered him into the watchman's hands, and immediately received a blow; it was after I had lost my pocket-book; my friend said, it was the same man struck me that cut me; I did not see the man; he said, it was the same man that wounded me in the throat, and likewise in the bowels; he was taken to Mary-le-bonne watch-house, and I was carried to a surgeon; I thought my wounds were mortal, and was obliged to be carried away. (Produces a shirt and waistcoat, nearly covered with blood.)

Cross-examined by Mr. Alley. Q. What do you tell us you are? - A. I keep a lodging-house and eating-house.

Q. What sort of lodgers have you got, gentlemen or ladies? - A. If you were to come with a lady, I should not ask for the certificate of your marriage.

Q. You keep a house for the entertainment of all comers? - A. Yes.

Q. How long have you kept a bawdy-house? - A. I have been there five or six years, licensed by the Magistrates, and if they did not approve of it, I dare say they would put it down.

Q. Have you a licence now? - A. No.

Q. Was it taken away while in your hands? - A. Yes, it was, it was done away with.

Q. But still you keep it on? - A. I went into the country, and was very unfortunate.

Q. As an unfortunate man, you still keep on this house? - A. I live in the house of course, and act as an honest man; I am not obliged to inquire for the certificates of people.

Q. What time of night was this? - A.Near twelve o'clock.

Q. You were very sober? - A. I don't doubt but I was.

Q. Don't you know? - A. I dare say I was.

Q. Do you dare swear you were? - A. I don't swear I was.

Q. You must know whether you were sober or not? - A. Sober.

Q. You swear that? - A. I dare say I had nothing to drink.

Q. Were you or not sober? - A. Yes.

Q. Upon your oath? - A.Indeed I was soberer then than I am now.

Q. What had you been drinking that day? - A. I had been drinking some porter and gin and water that evening.

Q. What time did you begin, early in the morning? - A. When I can get any thing to drink.

Q. Upon your oath, were you not dead drunk at that time? - A. No.

Q. Were you not drunk? - A. No.

Q. Were you quite sober? - A. I was as sober then as I am now.

Q. Upon your oath, were you, in the strict sense, sober or note? - A. I was sober, although I might be joking with my friend.

Q. This man was taken by you when you lost your pocket-book? - A. Yes.

Q. You lost a deal of property, and you had been an unfortunate man before you lost this property? - A. Yes.

Q.However, you happened to get possession of this property, and that you lost? - A. Yes.

Q. At Marlborough-street, you charged that man with a highway robbery? - A. I have sworn it, I don't know what you call it.

Q. You know it fetches you a reward of forty pounds, if you could convict? - A. I don't think it would amount to that.

Q. Have you never heard it? - A. I might.

Q. Upon your oath, don't you know there is a reward of forty pounds? - A. I know now you tell me, but I don't think it would amount to that; I don't know what it amounts to.

Q. Did not you charge him with a highway robbery at that time? - A. He picked my pocket.

Court. Q.Answer the gentleman - did not you charge him with a highway robbery? - A. I don't know what it amounts to.

Mr. Alley. Q.Upon your oath, was not the charge for a highway robbery? - A. I did not know what it was.

Q. Did not you charge him so at the Magistrate's? - A. I charged him with picking my pocket.

Q. Did not you charge him with a highway robbery, and did not the Magistrate say, there was no ground for it? - A. I do not know what it amounts to.

Court. If you do not answer it directly, I will commit you? (The question repeated.) - A. I do not recollect that there was any thing said about a highway robbery; I charged him with having picked my pocket.

Q. Did not the Magistrate tell you there was no pretence to say this was a highway robbery, and did he not commit him only for a grand larceny? - A. I believe there was something of that sort mentioned.

Q. Did he not say there was no pretence for charging it as a highway robbery, but if you insisted upon it, he must commit him for grand larceny? - A. That is what I heard.

Q. And yet, you knowing there was a reward of forty pounds, have thought fit to make it a highway robbery? - A. I beg pardon, I am as poor now as I was then; I never gave it a thought.

Q. Was it by your direction it was made a highway robbery, or was it done from your statement? - A. I did not say it was a highway robbery; I did not know what they might call it; I have stated the facts I have done here; I said nothing about the highway robbery; I never found the pocket-book since.

Q. You told the Magistrate there were fifty pounds? - A. There were.

Q. Was there a single bill accepted by any tradesman in London, or by any man in this country? - A. Yes; it was mentioned in the public papers; they were made payable to a friend of mine, in Holborn, William Welch; I had not known the prisoner before; I had not delivered the bills to any body; they were accepted by a very respectable tradesman.

Q. Who is Mr. Webb? - A. He is a farmer; I believe he lives in the country.

Q. Does he take up his lodgings in your house? - A. Yes; I don't know how long; about a fortnight at this time.

Q. What part of the country does he live in? - A. I don't know; he lives down by Ealing, or Acton, or somewhere there.

Q. Will you swear he is a farmer? - A. Yes, he has told me so; his father and mother are lately dead.

Q.Upon your oath, is he a farmer? - A. I don't know.

Q. Upon your oath, do you believe he is a farmer? - A. Yes, as long as I have known him; when he came to town, I have said, send me a load of hay; I have known him two years.

Q. Upon your oath, did not you charge the prisoner with having robbed you of fifty pounds worth of duplicates? - A. No; I dare say forty pounds, and I am afraid I shall lose four or five pounds by it.

Q. How many duplicates might there be in this forty or fifty pounds? - A. They were all in the pocket-book.

Q. In what pocket was the book in? - A. At that time I had put it in my coat pocket; I had this coat on; I had not a side-pocket.

Q. Upon you oath, are you able to ascertain a single article that had been pawned by you? - A. I say now as I said before, I dare say the things cost me forty pounds.

Q. Upon your oath, could you ascertain, or did you, a single article that had been pawned? - A. In the course of five minutes, I could tell you the particulars.

Q. Were you not asked this question before the Magistrate, and were you able to give an answer? - A. I said, the things cost me forty pounds.

Q. Are you now able to mention to me a single pawnbroker your things were with? - A. Yes, I can.

Q. Did you, before the Magistrate? - A. No.

Q. Did not the Magistrate ask you? - A.Upon my word and honour -

Q. Upon your oath, did you tell the Magistrate? - A. No.

Q. Have you, since that time, gone to the pawnbrokers, to desire them to keep them for you? - A. I have.

Q. Now you know of the 40l. reward? - A.

Now I understand you; I think nothing at all about it; I don't suppose it would amount to it.

RICHARD WEBB sworn. - I am in the farming business, and lodge with the last witness; As we were going down the road just this side John-street, I was a little behind him, he turned round, and said, I have catched a man's hand in my pocket, and have lost my pocket-book, and he said, that was the man that had got it; I made answer, and said, why don't you lay hold of him by the collar, why don't you stop him; another person comes up and catches me by the right arm, and attempted to strike me; there were two of them, one of them struck me with something, but I cannot say what, whether it was a knife or not, but it cut me through the coat and two waistcoats, and cut my bowels; he did that with his left-hand, and directly he jumped round and struck me with his right-hand in the neck, here, it is not well yet, it is under the burr of the ear, and off he fet. As Mr. Hazel was discoursing about this pocket-book, the other struck him; and I directly says, are we to be murdered, why don't you cry out to the watch; directly I holloaed out, watch, and Hazel likewise; I said, why don't you lay hold of him; with that he laid hold of him, and held him till the watchman came; he said, this is the man, I give charge of the man, I have been robbed; I told him that was the man, and the watchman took him to the watch-house; I did not know I was wounded at first, I put my hand, in this manner, and took it away all over blood, I found then I was injured by the blow; we went home, and got a doctor to dress the wounds. Mr. Hazel went down to Marlborough-street the next morning; I was not able to get up, I could not stir out of bed for a week or ten days; the Magistrate delayed the time, he was examined twice at Marlborough-street, thinking I should get pretty well, to attend on the Saturday, but I was not able to get out of my bed; no blows were given by the prisoner till after the pocket-book was stolen.

Cross-examined by Mr. Alley. Q. You say, the Magistrate did not think sit to commit him upon the first and second examination? - A. No.

Q. But he afterwards committed him? - A. That is what Mr. Hazel told me as I lay in bed.

Q. How long have you known Mr. Hazel? - A. I have known him these ten years by name, nothing further.

Court. Q. I thought you said you lodged at his house? - A. I did not lodge at his house, I lodge at No. 16, in another street.

Mr. Alley. Q. Have you known him or not? - A. I have known his name.

Q. Have you been acquainted with him? - A. I have been acquainted with him so far as to have a pint of porter with him, but never any dealings.

Q. Upon your oath, did you or not always lodge in his house when you came to town? - A. No.

Q. If he has sworn that he has perjured himself, has he not? - A. I have not, I have a lodging of my own.

JAMES SMITH sworn. - I am a watchman: About twelve o'clock, as I was in John-street, I heard a noise in Oxford-street, of calling watch; I made up to it, and saw the prisoner in Mr. Hazel's hands, he delivered him to me; he said he had robbed him of his pocket-book, and ruined him, for that he had a great deal of property in his pocket-book; I searched him, but did not find any thing upon him, no knife, or pocket-book, or any thing.

GERRARD SCAWEN sworn. - I am a watchman, and was the second man that came up to the others, I was far from the place where it happened: I ran up, and saw this man struggling very hard to get away from Hazel, upon which I laid hold of him, and the other watchman laid hold too; he was searched, but nothing found upon him.

Cross-examined by Mr. Alley. Q.You swear he struggled to get away? - A. Yes.

Q. Do you swear that? - A. Yes.

Q. What brought you from Ireland, did you run away? - A. No. I have done nothing to make me leave it.

Q. You hope for a share of the reward, don't you? - A. No.

Prisoner's defence. I am as innocent of the crime laid to my charge as any of you gentlemen; I was coming from my aunt's, and those men were walking with two women of the town, and both very much in liquor; as I went by them, he knocked himself against me; holloa, says he, what did you do that for; and charged me with picking his pocket.

Jury. My Lord, we are perfectly satisfied of the innocence of the young man. NOT GUILTY .

Tried by the first Middlesex Jury, before Mr. RECORDER.


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