Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 6.0, 19 December 2014), May 1722, trial of John Hawkins George Simpson (t17220510-3).

John Hawkins, George Simpson, Violent Theft > highway robbery, 10th May 1722.

John Hawkins and George Simpson of Harmonsworth , were indicted for assaulting Tho. Green, on the Highway, and taking from him a black Gelding, value 10 l. the Goods of Charles Pratly ; two Mails, value 4 l. and 50 Leather Bags, value 5 l. the Goods of our Sovereign Lord the King , on the 6th of April last. (Hawkins pray'd the Court that all the King's Witnesses might be examin'd apart, which was granted.) Thomas Green (the Post-boy ) depos'd, that near the Red Horse, at Slough, he was overtaken by James Ladbrook , about 1 a Clock in the Morning; they rode in company to Langly broom, where another Man, on a Chesnut Horse, rode up to them, and went off again. They rode through Colbrook, and then two Men followed them at a distance; and on this side Longford, the same two Men came up to them, with Handkerchiefs in their Months, and their Wigs and Hats pull'd forward over their Faces. He on the Chesnut Horse held a Pistol to this Evidence, and said, you must go along with me; and then taking hold of his Horse's Bridle, led him down the Lane; the other Man bringing Ludbrook in the same manner. Then making them dismount, he on the Chesnut Horse said to this Evidence, Are you the Lad that swore against Child? No, says he, I have been Post-boy but a very little while. Was you ever rob'd yet? (said the other) No, said the Boy; Why then you must pay Beveridge now, said he, and swore he'd be reveng'd upon somebody for poor Child's sake. Then they turn'd Ladbrook's Horse loose, having first cut his Bridle. One of'em then went off with the black Gelding, (on which this Evidence rode) and the other bound their Hands behind'em, ty'd'em back to back, and fasten'd'em to a Tree in a Ditch. The Man then ask'd Ladbrook if he had any Gold in his Pocket, he told him he had but 3 s. 6 d. He then put his Hand in Ladbrook's Pocket, and finding no more Money, did not take any thing from him, but went away after the other. This Evidence and Ladbrook with strugling got from the Tree, and went tied back to back to an Inn in Longford; from whence the Ostler came with them, and went down the Lane, where they found the Gelding loose, and the Bags cut open. All the Particulars of this Evidence were confirm'd by James Ladbrook

Ralph Wilson deposed, that he had known Hawkins two Years, but had not been acquainted with Simpson till last August; they had often consulted together to rob some Mail, and particularly about a Week before the Fact was Committed, they laid their design of Robbing the Bristol Mail. Accordingly about Eleven a Clock on Sunday the 15th of April, they took Horse at the Blew Boar Inn in Southwark; Hawkins on a tall bay or brown Gelding, Simpson on a Chesnut or Sorrel Mare, and this Evidence on a dapple Grey; they crost the Water at Kew Ferry, din'd at the 3 Pigeons at Brentford, staid there till 6 in the Evening, call'd at the Post-house at Hounslow, loitered on the Road, till they came to the Post-house at Colbrook: where they supt on Horseback, and heard that the Mail would come by between 1 and 2 in the Morning; from thence they came to Langly broom about midnight, where they agreed to dispatch Simpson alone to meet the Mail, he went, they loiter'd till his return; and about 1 a Clock they saw the Post Boy and a Traveller together, and Simpson following them. They then consulted again, and resolv'd that Simpson and this Evidence should both follow the Mail, and that Hawkins should watch at a distance: because he being pretty bulky, would be the more remarkable. Hawkins and this Evidence then chang'd Horses, and followed the Boy and Ladbrook through Colbrook; and on this side Longford, this Evidence and Simpson rode up to them, and taking hold of their Horses Bridles, led them down Harmonsworth Lane, where they dismounted them; this Evidence left Simpson to bind them, and took the Gelding and Mail to the end of the Lane, where they found Hawkins waiting: they all rifled the Bags, and carried several of them to Hounslow Heath, where they selected the Bath and Bristol Bags, and threw the rest away; thence they rode through Kingston and Wansworth, and riding down a bye Road, they searched the Bags; and putting what they thought proper into their Pockets, they threw the Bags and the rest of the Letters over a hedge; and taking their way through Camberwell, came along Greenwich Road to the Hand Inn in Barnaby-street, between 5 and 6 on Monday Morning. There they put up their Horses, drank a pint of burnt Wine: and sometime after took Coach and drove to the Minories, where they parted, and went by different ways to Francis Green's, at the Cock and George in the Minories, at which House they went into a Room by themselves; and the better to take off suspicion, they call'd for a Candle, Wax, Paper, Pen and Ink: then lockt the door and examined their Prize: and reserving only the Bank bills, they burnt all the other Notes and Letters with the Candle, which they set in the Chimney. They had Three 20 l. Bills, One of 25 l. half a 50 l. Bill, and 2 halves of 25 l. each; which they equally divided. That the Monday following, this Evidence being Apprehended, made this same Confession, before Mr. Carteret Post Master General: and by his directions the Prisoners were taken, at a House in Green Arbour Court in the Little Old Baily. John Hammond Ostler , at the Blew Boar in Southwark deposed, that Wilson and the 2 prisoners took Horse there, about 11 on Sunday Morning (April 15th;) that Hawkins had a dark brown Gelding, Wilson a Grey one, and Simpson a Chesnut Mare. John Burrows , at the George (the Post-house) at Hounslow deposed, that he saw the 2 prisoners and Wilson drinking there at the door on Horse back, between 7 and 8 at Night, and that they went Colbrook Road. Charles Cox Tapster , at the George (the Post-house) at Colebrook deposed, that about 11 at Night, 3 Men supt at the Door on Horseback, and then rid towards Slough; he did not know their Faces, but said their Horses were a Grey, a Chesnut or Sorrel, and a Bay or brown. Thomas Parker , at the Hand Inn in Barnaby street deposed, that on Monday Morning the 16th of April between 5 and 6 the 2 prisoners and Wilson came to their Inn, with a Grey Horse, a brown Horse, and a Chesnut Mare; and they ordered them 2 penny worth of Beans a piece which he gave them. Being askt what reason he had to take notice of the day of the Month, he answer'd that he was a Weekly Servant, and his Master ow'd him 7 Weeks wages (which was 14 s.) and paid it him altogether that very Day: and therefore he kept an Account of it; and that he knew Simpson, and suspected him to be a Highwayman, and told several People of it at that time.

Richard Room Constable, and Richard Mills , deposed, that when they came to apprehend the prisoners at a House in Green Arbour Court, about 9 at Night, the Daughter came to the Door, and askt what they wanted; they bid her not be frighted but light a Candle, for they were come to search for stoln Goods. The prisoners who were above Stairs, overhearing them cry'd out, we are the Men you want, and then Swore, they'd Shoot the first Man that came up; Hawkin's brother Mat, came down foremost, and persuaded the others to surrender quietly. The Evidences told them they came upon Wilsons Information; why then (said the prisoner Hawkins) we are dead Men, but yet had rather lose our Lives, than save them in such a base and infamous manner as that Villain Wilson has done his. Mr. Bell, Comptroller of the Post Office, deposed, that when the Mail was robb'd, there were 10 Bags wanting, among which were the Bath and Bristol; but that they were afterwards all brought home, (except the Bath and Bristol,) by a Man that found them on Hounslow, Heath.

The prisoners in their Defence, objected against Wilson's Character, as being guilty by his own Confession; and Hawkins own'd he had often rode out with Wilson, and particularly on Sunday the 15th of April; when Simpson, Wilson, and himself, took Horse together, in order to visit his Mother at Staines. When they came to Hounslow they parted, and he came to London that Night, and put up his Horse at William Fuller 's, in Bedford Bury, Covent Garden. William Fuller produc'd a Note, which was read in Court, viz. April the 10th, 1722. Receiv'd of John Hawkins , the Sum of 1 l. 10 s. in full of all Accounts, by me William Fuller. He then depos'd that Hawkins paid him the Money on the Day mentioned in the Receipt. That Hawkins wrote the Body of the Note in his sight; and that he (Fuller) sign'd it at the same time, and with the same Ink. That on the next Sunday Night after this Note was given, Hawkins came to his House, put up his Horse, lay there that Night, and did not go out till next Morning. That he had likewise taken an Account of the same Money in his Book, which he had unluckily forgot to bring with him; and reading an Advertisement in the Gazette, concerning the Mail's being robb'd, he compar'd his Book and the Note together, and they exactly agreed. But the Note being examin'd in Court, it was apparent that it was not sign'd with the same Ink as the Body of it was wrote withal. Francis Green , at the Cock and George in the Minories, depos'd, that the prisoners, and Wilson, had been several times at his House, but he did not remember that ever they lock'd themselves in a private Room, and call'd for Pen, Ink, Paper, Wax, Ec. Edward Carter depos'd, that Wilson came to his House to enquire for Hawkins and Simpson; he acquainting Hawkins with it, Hawkins said, If he comes again, pray deny me to him; for I find he's a Fellow of an ill Character, and I don't desire to have any further Conversation with him. This Evidence soon after going to see Wilson in the Compter, Wilson said to him, I am sorry I have wronged Simpson, but I'll hang that Rogue Hawkins if it is possible, because his Brother has impeach'd me. Henry Hunt depos'd, that he was a Stock Jobber, had known Hawkins seven or eight Years, and believed him to be a very honest Man, because he had dealt with him in South Sea, and other Bubbles. That in particular, he had sold Hawkins two River Douglasses for 20 l. and had lent him 10, 20 and 30 Guineas at a time, all which Hawkins repaid him very honourably. Hawkins then call'd several Witnesses to his manner of Living, who depos'd, that he was born at Staines, and a few Years ago was a Livery Servant to Sir Dennis Dutry ; after which he traded to France and Holland, in Wine, Brandy, Etc.

Simpson likewise call'd several Witnesses to his manner of Living, who depos'd, that he was born at Putney and from thence, when a Child, remov'd with his Parents to Spalding, in Lincolnshire. That he was some time a Bailiff, and kept an Inn in Lincoln; but failing there, about two Years and a half ago he hir'd himself Under Butler to the Lord Castlemain, where he liv'd a Year and a half, and bore a good Character. Mr Green depos'd, that Simpson had serv'd him honestly, as Footman, for four or five Months; but believ'd he had not been in any Service since he left his, which was nine Months ago, because no body had since applied to him for a Character. Then he call'd some Witnesses to prove that his Sister's Husband, Richard Eiiet , dying at Bawtry in Yorkshire, and leaving four Children behind him, he went thither to assist her in getting in her Debts. After which he went to another Sister, at Sutton, from whence he came to London about eight Weeks ago. When he was out of Place in London, he us'd to live with - Grubshaw, a Fruiterer, and assist his Clerk in getting in Money.

The prisoners insisted on their on their Innocence; but the Evidence being positive, and fortified by many concurrent Circumstances, the Jury found them both guilty of the Indictment.

[Death. See summary.]