Offence: Violent Theft > highway robbery
Verdict: Not Guilty; Guilty
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158, 159. (L.) Francis Wessbrook and John Arnold were indicted for that they, together with Isaac Summers , not yet taken, on Richard Harper did make an assault in an open place near the king's highway, and stealing from his person one silver watch, value 50 s. one seal, value 1 s. 6 d. and one key, value 1 d. his property , January 26, 1753 .
Richard Harper . I live in Cloth-Fair, am of no business; I was a gentleman's servant in the latter end of January, about the 24th, 5th, or 6th was twelvemonth, just past eight o'clock, I was going into Old-street from Justice Fielding's office; going up the middle walk in Moor-Fields , I met a young man; he asked me what o'clock it was; I told him it was just past eight; then three men more came up to me, they asked me if I had got any money, (they had all sticks, I saw nothing else, this is one of the sticks, I have had it ever since) [holding one in his hand] I said I had no money; then one of them struck me over the head, but had asked me for my watch first, and I said I had never a one; I was stunned down with one blow, then they began to rifle me for my watch, which they found in my waistcoat pocket, (I had put it in a glove and put it there) then one said, come, let us go away, there is somebody coming; the other said, No, G - d d - n him, no, I have hold of it, I will have it, or else I will cut all the cloaths off his back. I came to myself, and said, O Lord, I think you have almost killed me. They said, G - d d - n you, if you speak another word we will kill you quite. They took my watch by cutting the glove in two, and left the string, seal, and key, which were found there the next morning. Then one of them gave me a drive on the side of the head, and said if I offered to call after them they would come back and murder me. Then they went off, and when the evidence was taken they were taken up, but confessed nothing in my hearing.
Q. Did you know them before?
Harper. I do not remember any of the prisoners, I only remember they were all of them partly of a size.
George Hore . On the 26th of January 53, I went to Cheapside, where I met Isaac Summers and John Arnold ; they asked me to go and drink some purl, I said I was low, they offered to treat me; I went with them and drank part of two or three pints. I came out and left them there, Arnold promising to call on me in the afternoon to go and see for some business. I am a bricklayer, he called, and we went, but could get no business. Then he asked me if I would go on the highway with him; it startled me very much: I refused it, and then he asked me to go and drink, as night was coming on, with Isaac Summers . We went, and as we were going along we met him and Westbrook together. We all four agreed to drink at the Bull's Head in Bull-and-Mouth-street, and after we had been there some time, Summers and Arnold got up and went to the door, and they started the question to Westbrook and me, to go and rob the first man we met. Being in liquor we agreed to go with them, Summers had a stick, and Arnold had a screw barrel pistol. We walked about to where Summers and Arnold took us, which was into Gough Square, Fleet-street, but could find nothing. Summers said, if he could see a servant maid come out with a cup or silver mug, which he had seen people come to the Cheshire Cheese for beer with, he would knock her down and take it. Then Summers proposed to go into Moor-Fields to rob the first man we met. Westbrook agreed as we did, we were all together. Then we met with a gentleman, whom we past by, and then Westbrook and I would have gone home, but the others insisted on our staying. So we did, and came down the middle quarter, and met this Mr. Harper; Arnold went up to him first, and asked him what it was o'clock; he said he believed it had just struck eight; then Arnold asked him for his money; he said he had none; then Summers came up with a pistol in his hand, and run it against the prosecutor's head, and knocked him against the pales; then they insisted upon the watch; they felt about, and I clapped my hand on the man's shoulder, and drawing it
Q. How long was this after the robbery?
Hore. About half an hour. After that I left them all at the end of Friday-street, and went home. In the morning I went to Isaac Summers 's, where I found Arnold and Summers's wife. I asked Arnold where Summers was; he said he was gone to dispose of the watch, but in about a quarter of an hour Summers came in with the watch, and said he would not go with it any more. Then Arnold and I was asked, but we both refused it. Then it was proposed, whoever disposed of it should have Westbrook's part, as he knew nothing of it. Then I took it, and went to this gentleman's house in the Minories, and there disposed of it for 25 s and a shagreen watch. He gave me an 18 s. piece, and the rest in silver.
Q. to Palace. Is this true?
Palace. It is. I gave him an 18 s. piece, and the rest in silver.
Evidence continues. I went and told them I had got two guineas for it, and gave Summers the 18 s. piece and 3 s. in silver to be between them, so had 4 s. and the shagreen watch; then I left them together.
Q. Have you at any time declared Westbrook knew nothing of what you were about to do, and that he was very much in liquor?
Hore. Yes, I have before the bench of Justices; he was in liquor.
Q. Have you declared to any body that Westbrook was not in sight when you took the watch?
Hore. No, I never did.
Q. When was this discovered?
Hore. About a year after.
Q. How came it to be discovered that you was a person concerned in this robbery?
[To this question be would give no direct answer, although asked him three times over, but prevaricated, and talked of his being drawn in by the others, and that he was fuddled at the time, &c.]
Q. Your art is seen in evading this question: Pray answer this plain question, on what occasion did you go to Castle's house in January last?
Hore. I went there to buy a pair of pistols for Arnold, and it was a good providenc it was prevented, for we should very likely have done some mischief with them.
Q. How came you to tell them you had sold the watch for two guineas, when you had sold it but for 25 s. and an old watch?
Hore. Summers told me he was offered two guineas for it at Mr. Briscoe's.
Q. How came you to give them an account you had sold it for two guineas?
Hore. I can give no account of that.
I know no more of it than the child unborn.
Arnold said the same.
John Arnold . I have known Westbrook about a dozen years, he has worked under me as a Bricklayer. I also have known George Hore, he was my bedfellow about seven years, and on the 25th of January he related this affair, but said Westbrook was in liquor, and knew nothing of what they had done; and that they met him very promiscuously, and that he knew nothing of their design; that they had been to see some cocks fight in Moor-Fields, and he said because Summers was gone, he was obliged to mention two to save his own life. Westbrook was always very willing to work.
Mr. Best. I know Westbrook by sight, his brother is my acquaintance, he desired me to go with him to this Hore, which I did, and we told him we came to ask him whether Westbrook was with them either before or after that time; he said he had not, and that he was so fuddled he knew not what was done, and that he stood at a distance from them at the time.
William Wynne . I went along with Mr. Best and Westbrook's brother, and Hore said to Mr. Westbrook, as to your brother Frank he is very innocent, I will not hurt him; he said he was much fuddled, and that when they attacked the man Westbrook was gone forward, and knew nothing of the fact. I know the prisoner to be a working
Mr. Cleaver. I have known Westbrook about a year, he worked for me, and was very diligent in his business. I really believe him to be an honest man.
Mr. Steed. I have known him about sixteen or seventeen years, he always bore an honest character; he has worked for me four years, and behaved well.
Mr. Brown. I have known Westbrook in Town and Country; he is one of the soberest of the sort, and a pretty workman; I do not think him guilty of the fact.
Mr. Edan. He worked for me, and behaved very well; I never saw any other but that of an honest man by him.
John Rose . I live in Angel-street; I have employed Arnold three summers and part of three winters at several houses; I never heard any ill of him, he was always industrious, and then bore a good character.
Thomas Cruff . I have known Arnold upwards of three years, he is very industrious : I believe he wholly maintained his mother, brother and sister. I do not think him any way inclinable to do such a thing as he is now charged with.
Mr. Neel. I have known Arnold ever since he was a child: I always believed him to be a very honest lad. I believe he would not commit a street-robbery.
Agnes Rockall . I have known Arnold ten years, I never heard any thing amiss of him before this. I look upon him to be an industrious lad. Upon my word I do not believe he would be guilty of a street-robbery.
Westbrook Acquitted .