7th July 1784
Reference Numbert17840707-5

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665. RICHARD EDWARDS was indicted for feloniously assaulting George Keith Elphinstone , Esq ; on the King's highway, on the 8th day of June last, and putting him in fear and danger of his life, and feloniously taking from his person and against his will, one gold watch, value 20 l. one gold watch chain, value 3 l. two gold watch keys, value 20 s. four stone seals set in gold, value 6 l. and one walking cane, mounted with gold, value 10 s. his property .

The witnesses examined apart at the request of Mr. Garrow, Prisoner's Council.


Do you know the prisoner? - I beg to go nearer him, being near sighted; (after going close up to the prisoner) Yes, perfectly; I was robbed on the 8th of June, about five yards above Coleman's theatre , by the prisoner and many others.

What time was it? - Between nine and ten, I came out of the theatre, and was turning up the Haymarket to go to a carriage; after I had passed the crowd that was at the door, I was surrounded by a second crowd near the corner of James-street, and at an apothecary's door two fellows attempted to pick my coat pocket; I secured my pockets, and told them to keep their distance or I should strike them; they made a second attempt on my pockets, and whilst I stood protecting my pockets, the prisoner and another man run against me with great violence; the one on the right-hand, side of the pavement thrust his head into my stomach, and the prisoner his right arm at the same time on my breast, and with his left hand at the same moment seized my watch by the chain; the watch was very large, and came out of my pocket with difficulty; I felt the hand at the sob, and seized the left-hand of the prisoner with my right-hand, and his collar with my left-hand; he forced the left-hand down under his coat while I was holding him by the wrist; the watch was then in his left-hand, and I am of opinion at this moment the watch was taken out of his hand by another, a man stooped behind him, and reached his hand under his coat; I called out, this fellow has robbed me, or picked my pocket, in hopes of assistance, I was not five yards from the centries; the prisoner endeavoured to escape between me and the rails of the apothecary's house, but I prevented him; he

then attempted to escape by the outside, and we came against the fore wheel of a coach; the coachman struck from his box but without effect, several servants would have come to my assistance, but the quantity of thieves that were round I believe prevented them; the mob ran with so much violence, and two men in particular ran against me with so much violence, that I quitted my hold of the prisoner; some of those that were round called out, he has them, meaning, I apprehend, that I had him fast: then they disengaged him from my hand, and it split the nail of my finger I held him so fast; and there was a kind of huzza, and an oath, by God he is off! I attended at the office in Bow-street the next morning, and gave information in hopes of recovering my property, and described the prisoner so exactly that Sir Sampson Wright's men went and apprehended him in about a quarter of an hour after, I waited in Sir Sampson's Office, the prisoner was brought in and many others.

Are you positively sure that that is the man? - Most positive my Lord, if nature forms one man so much like another, I am sure my situation would be more disagreeable than his. I never got my watch again.

Mr. Garrow. What was the value of your watch? - It was a very remarkable watch, a time keeper, it was a very improved watch, made by Mr. Comyns.

You never saw the person before? - Not to my knowledge.

This was a pretty severe land engagement, Captain? - A great scuffle; there were five of them had their hands upon me at one time, but there were more there than a dozen.

Might not it have happened that the hand that was applied to your fob was the hand of some other person and not the prisoner's? - It is possible it might have happened, but by no means probable.

If the man was forced upon you in the manner you have described, it should seem as if that would have incapacitated him from taking your watch, and that somebody else took it? - If the force had not been intentional.

Can you ascertain exactly and with precision, so as to say that it was not involuntary force; might he not have been forced by the rest of the mob? - No.

You was not at all apprehensive as to personal danger, I believe I may say so, Captain, from your known character and courage? - I rather smiled at the oddity of being assaulted by such a number of people at such a time of night, I was not at all apprehensive of my life.

Mr. Garrow. I think, my Lord, there is a case where the prosecutor expressly swore he was not put in fear.

Court. It is taking by force, which is the same thing as taking by fear. Suppose a man is knocked down and never sees the hand.


Court. It is not necessary to examine him, the gentleman has sworn positively to the prisoner.

The prisoner called four witnesses, who gave him a good character.

Court. Gentlemen of the Jury, the Council for the prisoner endeavoured to get from the prosecutor, that he was not alarmed or put in fear, but in point of law it is sufficient to constitute a robbery, either if your property is delivered by fear, threats, and menaces, or if a man comes and takes your property from you by violence on the road; and at this time of day it would be a very doubtful case, whether the objection would hold if a person delivered his money with his own hands, and said he was not put in fear; but that is not the case here: whether he was put in fear or not, if a man parts with his property, either from the effect of terror or force, it is equally a robbery in either case.

GUILTY , Death .

Tried by the first Middlesex Jury before Mr. Justice ASHURST.

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