THOMAS BROWNING, THOMAS WINDERBANK.
14th September 1785
Reference Numbert17850914-64
VerdictGuilty
SentenceDeath

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787. THOMAS BROWNING and THOMAS WINDERBANK were indicted for feloniously assaulting James Buttercass on the King's highway, on the 14th day of September last, and putting him in corporal fear and danger of his life, and feloniously taking from his person and against his will, one gold watch, value 7 l. and five shillings in monies numbered , his property.

(The witnesses examined apart, at the request of the Prisoners.)

JAMES BUTTERCASS sworn.

I was robbed on Wednesday last in the evening, a few minutes after five, on the road leading from London to Harrow, within three miles and a half from Harrow, within a few yards of Wimbly-green , I was in a one horse chaise, nobody was with me; I was stopped by two men, whom I remember very well to be the prisoners at the bar; they met me, the one that has a defect under his eye, had a horse pistol.

Court. What is his name? - Thomas Browning , he laid hold of the bridle of my horse, h e had a large rusty pistol in his hand, and with an oath demanded my money; I instantly got up and made a threatning motion to jump over him, and whipped my horse, in hopes to go over him, then the other man came to the fore wheel and presented a cutlass from uner his coat, I gave him upwards of 5 s. and a few half-pence, I believe it was less than 10 s. they expressed a doubt that it was not all, and they felt on my pocket, and lifting up the flap of my waistcoat, they saw the black string of my watch, they asked me what it was dangling, I replied that it was my watch, but it would be of no use to them; I delivered it to the other prisoner that drew the cutlass, that was Winderbank the tall prisoner; after I had delivered him my watch, they said I might go on. I stopped their proceeding towards London, and expostulated with them to return my watch, and I must in justice to one say, he would have returned it, he was coming back, but the other threatened that he would shoot him if he stirred an inch, that was the taller prisoner Winderback, that would have returned it, Browning said to his companion, I will shoot you if you stir an inch; in favour of the other who had the pistol, I beg leave to mention that he did not fire, though the pistol was loaded: when I lost sight of them by the winding of the road, I proceeded as fast as I could to Wimbly Green, then I saw two men with horses at the leaping bar, I applied to them, they were men from London, I told them of the robbery, they pursued them, and within twenty minutes after I had been robbed I met some gentlemen of Harrow, who told me, some men, supposed to be the persons I described, were apprehended; and when I saw them they were the same; I saw them in a field about a mile and a quarter from the place where I was, Browning was in custody of Joseph Thompson ; it was full day light, I knew them perfectly, it was impossible I should not know them, only their faces were much dirtier, I am perfectly clear, I had no doubt then or now, I was told that my watch was picked up by a little girl, who was with her parents in a field.

Mr. Peatt, Prisoner's Council. Had you ever seen any of the prisoners before? - No, not to my recollection.

They were much dirtier you say? -

Yes; but not enough to conceal his features.

RICHARD TOWNE sworn.

I know nothing about the robbery, I was bringing a calf to Mr. Green, and Mr. Barlow was leaping a horse over a leaping bar at Wimbly Green, the prosecutor came up, and said he had been robbed by two footpads; he described them, and said one of them had a brown coat on, and one had a lightish colour one on, Mr. Barlow was with me, and I got upon my horse, and rode as hard as I could ride; I took down to the church, and I saw two men running up a field, I might have rode about a quarter of a mile, they were walking, then I judged them to be the two men, they answered in dress the description of the prosecutor, and I could see nobody else; Mr. Barlow was with me, I pursued them over a field, and they came over a gate, I leaped my horse immediately, and threw them down and myself too, and my horse; and I says to the two prisoners, you are two villains, and you have been using a young woman ill, going to ravish her, which is my sister; I did not tell them the real thing till afterwards, for I was rather afraid, says I, if you do not follow me, I will blow your brains out; they were very civil.

No such thing had happened to your sister? - No, my Lord, but I was rather frightened, and was glad to say anything to get away from them, but they were very civil.

Had you any arms? - Nothing but a stick, but I told them I had arms; I went to the middle of the field, and there I jumped off my horse, and laid hold of them, then Mr. Barlow, and another young man Joseph Thompson came up to my assistance; the young man with sore eyes said, he would not come on; Mr. Barlow hit him over the head with a stick; Mr. Barlow searched them both, he found nothing on them but a ram-rod and a knife, they had no arms at all; as I was riding by them, I judged they had dropped something, I did not actually see them; there was a horse pistol found, and in about fifteen minutes the prosecutor came up, it was all done in less than half an hour, we took them to the alehouse, and afterwards to Justice Lamb's; the prosecutor came and said they were the two men that robbed him.

Were they searched again before the Justice? - The Justice would not have anything to do with them, he delivered them up to the Shepherd's-bush patrol, belonging to Sir Sampson Wright, who searched them, and found nothing upon them; I said I believed I could find every thing in the field, and I took a stick out of one of their hands and stuck it up at the place they were taken from, and I looked in the field; I went from the stick by my horse's tracks, by his foot tracks, it was high grass, and I judged I should find something, and the first thing that I picked up was some shot and some powder, that was about fifteen yards from the place where I took them; the next thing I found was this cutlass, and the gentleman brought the sheath, and said it answered the description.

Prosecutor. I found the sheath, in the road where I was robbed.

Towne. The next thing that I saw was a farmer's man pick up this pistol, it was charged, and he let it off, but what with I do not know, it made a great report, it was primed; going a little way further I saw a little girl pick up this watch close to me, this was all within fifty yards.

(The watch deposed to by the prosecutor.)

Prosecutor. I did not recollect the number or the maker's name, nor do I now recollect the number, though I have looked at it several times; it has all the appearance of being mine, I have had it ever since the year 1767; I have not the smallest doubt but it is mine; I believe it to be gold, I was told so, but I cannot swear it is; I remember the two first figures of the number, which are one and three; I do

not remember the rest, and there is the name of Gordon on the inside.

Mr. Peatt, Prisoner's Council, to Towne. The prisoners did not attempt to get away? - No.

Is not this the shooting season? - There are partridges about you? - I do not know, I never carry a gun out.

There is a good deal of powder and shot in that part of the country? - Yes.

Court. It is common small shot.

Prisoner Browning. On which of us was the ramrod found? - On Winderbank, but there is no place for the ramrod in the pistol.

- BARLOW sworn.

I joined in the pursuit of the prisoners, and after they were stopped, we found the things in the same field, within the course of forty yards, we observed a part of the field that the prisoners had gone on by the track of Mr. Towne's horse, I was within two yards of the track, my horse made a fault, and fell down into a gravel pit, so I was not up so soon as Towne, but I saw the things found; I did not see the watch picked up, I searched that man, and took a knife and key from Browning, and the other, Winderbank, had a ramrod, the prosecutor immediately said that is the man that held the pistol to my horse's head, that was Winderbank; and that is the man that stood with the cutlass, and took my watch, that was Browning, and the gentleman said that Winderbank would have given him his watch back, but Browning said he would blow his brains out; I am sure of their persons.

Towne. I cannot recollect positively which it was he said stood at the horse's head, but I think he said the shortest, Browning, and the other took his money; my recollection in that circumstance differs from Barlow's.

JOSEPH HOGSDON sworn.

I was coming from town, and I joined in the pursuit, and I helped to take them; I saw them picking up the things, I saw the watch soon after it was picked up, but I did not actually see it picked up; when the prosecutor came he said they had robbed him; he did not shew me which, he said they were the two men that robbed him; their faces were rather dirtier; the shortest man was rather dirtier.

PRISONER BROWNING's DEFENCE.

We were going a little way with a shipmate; we went down the highest way, and we went across a bean-field, and he took three or four beans, and we thought it was the farmer.

Towne. There was not a soul that I could see within a quarter of a mile; the two prisoners were behind a hedge, and I did not see them at first.

Prisoner Browning called six witnesses, who all gave him a very good character.

Prisoner Winderbank. My witnesses are not come yet.

THOMAS BROWNING , T. WINDERBANK,

GUILTY , Death .

Tried by the first Middlesex Jury before Mr. RECORDER.


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