John Benson, Anne Parrot, Violent Theft > highway robbery, Theft > receiving, 10th September 1755.

Reference Number: t17550910-16
Offences: Violent Theft > highway robbery; Theft > receiving
Verdicts: Guilty; Not Guilty
Punishments: Death
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315, 316. (L.) John Benson , and Anne Parrot , spinster , were indicted , the first , for that he, in a certain open place near the king's highway, on Richard Stevens , did make an assault, putting him in corporal fear and danger of his life, and taking from his person one guinea , four shillings , and three-pence, in money , number'd; one iron key, value 6 d. the money and goods of the said Richard; and the other for receiving the said money, well knowing it to have been stolen , July 25 .*

Richard Stevens . On the 25th of July I was going home to my house, in Somerset-street, the ward of Portsoken , near Aldgate , between the hours of twelve and one in the night; going through Harrow-alley, that leads to my house, I saw a man and woman under a gate-way, about the middle of the alley; I pass'd them; I was about twenty yards off my own door; I heard somebody coming after me in a hurry; and I being lame, step'd a little on one side to let him come by me; he pass'd by, and turn'd short again upon me, and took me by my throat, and ask'd me for my money; I told him I had none. He said if I spoke another word he'd blow my brains out.

Q. Did you see e'er a pistol?

Stevens . No; I did not. He put his hand in my right-hand breeches pocket, and took from thence a guinea, a six-pence, three pennyworth of halfpence, and the key of my bureau; then he put his hand in my other pocket, and took out a queen Anne's half-crown, and a shilling; this was the prisoner at the bar; then he went off .

Q. Did you know him before?

Stevens . I have known him some time; he does not live a stone's cast from my house; I was just going to say to him, Jack, you will not rob me at my own door; but fearing he should prejudice me I did not; then I went home , and told my wife I had been robb'd, and of what, and by whom. The watch was coming the rounds , at the hour one ; I call'd him in, and told him the case ; then he and I, and my son went to his lodgings; we saw several women there, but neither of the prisoners. About eight o'clock the same morning, I went in order to get assistance , but the constable was not at home . When I return'd , my wife told me she had seen the prisoner Benson hanging over a post near Aldgate; soon after he came by my door; I sent my son after him, who said he had seen him and the other prisoner go in at the sign of Oliver-and-porter, in Harrow-alley; then I sent him for the constable, who came with him. The prisoner Benson being a desperate fellow , and it is a very bad place, my son took a cutteau under his coat, and we went all three together; going along, just under the gateway , where I had seen them before, there were the two prisoners talking to each other . I went up to Benson, and laid hold of him , and said, Jack I charge you with robbing me; he denied it; Parrot sneak'd off; we took him to a publick house in the neighbourhood, and searched him, but found nothing upon him but about three-pence halfpenny. I said, Jack, how dare you do a thing of this kind? where is the key of my bureau? that is of no use to you; the bureau is lock'd , and it will do it hurt to break it open. I also said I valu'd the half-crown (having it a pledge from my wife before I married, about twenty-one years ago), more than the guinea. He wrung his hands, and cry'd, and said, I am the man, I am the man that rob'd you, but I did not know it was you. I hope you will be favourable to me. He sent immediately for the key and half-crown to Parrot. She came in, and said the key is of no use, it will not fit my lock. I had the half-crown from the officer that I sent, or from her, I know not which. She cry'd a good deal; Benson accused her of putting him upon robbing me, saying he'd speak the truth if he died for it. Did not you, (he said) when you saw the gentleman go by, say, there is a chance for you. There is a gentleman suckey, (supposing me drunk, because I am lame, and walk hobbling) if you will not, I can do it myself, and get the money as well as you. The answer she made was, suppose I bid you kill him, if it was not your inclination, what business had you to do it? She cried, and said, you may hang me if you will; after that she said, you can only transport me, and you will be hang'd, and I shall be a bright woman when you are dead. He said she had taken the guinea, and put it to her mouth, and said it is but a counter, and she wanted to get it from him; and he had much ado to get it

from her again. You villain, said she , how much of the guinea had I? You only fetch'd a pair of stays out of pawn , and bought me a cap, and two yards of ribbon; and said that the guinea was changed to buy him a pair of stockings, a striped waistcoat , and a leather apron; and all the money was spent , except the half-crown and two-pence half-penny . When I came with the watchman, we met Parrot very near the place where I had been rob'd; she said, what have you been rob'd? I never answer'd her; she seemed then to be upon the look-out, to see if the person made any outcry.

Q. Did you know her before?

Stevens . I have known her for years. When Benson was in custody, she said to me, I'll pawn my stays again, and a ring that I have, to make up the money, if you'll make it easy upon those circumstances. We thought it necessary to take her up; then Mr. Collet took hold of her.

Q. from Benson. Whether it is possible for him to swear to me in such a passage where it was so dark a man can't see his hand?

Prosecutor. It was moon-light; I saw him, and knew him very well.

Jefford Stevens . I am son to the prosecutor; I went with my father and the constable, when Benson was taken up; he confessed in my hearing that he rob'd my father.

Q. Of what?

J. Stevens. He did not mention the particulars; only he said he had the guinea; and he sent for the key and half-crown.

Joseph Collet . I am constable; I went with the prosecutor and his son to the Oliver-and-porter; there we took Benson; he at first said he was innocent, and Mr. Stevens was mistaken . I searched him to see if he had any pistols about him; I found nothing but two pence halfpenny about him. Mr. Stevens fell in a passion with him, saying, how can you deny it when you know me so well? Parrot came in, to see what was the matters and return'd; then Mr. Stevens said there was a woman in company; after that Benson confessed he had rob'd him of a guinea, half-a-crown, a shilling, a six-pence, I think three-pence halfpenny , and a key. Then the prosecutor said, give me the key, it will be of no service to you; and tell me where my half-crown is gone; I value it more than the guinea. Then he called to a person to go to Anne Parrot , to get the key and half-crown . They were brought; (he produced them .) I said I must be satisfied whether it is your key. I went to his house; Mrs. Stevens seeing it, said it is our key. I went to the bureau , and unlock'd and lock'd it. She desired me to leave it open, which I did .

Mr. Stevens . This is my key and half-crown, which I lost that night. I have had the half-crown twenty-one years; there is a little scratch on it. He named the letter it was under, which was shewn to the jury.

The prisoners said nothing in their defence.

To Benson's character.

Thomas Hiliar . I have known Benson about three or four years; I never heard any ill of him in my life.

Martha Watson . I have known Benson four years; he has lodged in my house two years; I have trusted him with 20 l. at a time to go and pay for me; he never embezzled a farthing of mine.

Q. Do you know Parrot?

Watson. I do as a neighbour; I can't say much to her.

William Cherry . I have known Benson six months ; I never saw any harm by him ; he was always a very civil honest man as far as I know of him.

Catharine Painter . I have known him ever since he was eleven years old; I know no harm by him.

Benson Guilty , Death .

Parrot Acquitted .

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