JAMES GARDNER, WILLIAM BRIGHT, GEORGE VIGINTON.
11th September 1822
Reference Numbert18220911-79
VerdictGuilty > with recommendation
SentenceDeath; Death; Death

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1223. JAMES GARDNER , WILLIAM BRIGHT , and GEORGE VIGINTON were indicted for feloniously assaulting John Harper , in a field and open place near the King's highway, on the 8th of August , at Edgware, putting him in fear, and taking from his person and against his will, one pair of shoes, value 1 s.; five sovereigns, and eighteen shillings , his property.

JOHN HARPER . I am a labouring man . On the 8th of August, I was at Edgware fair . I had just finished my work; there came a very heavy thunder-storm, and I went into a hay-shed, out of it. I had taken money for my work, at half-past one o'clock. I saw the three prisoners and another in the shed; the other man's name is Gardner. I was in the shed above an hour, or an hour and a half. They all remained there, and asked me to buy a pair of shoes of them. I said I wanted none; and asked where they got them. Gardner said, Saunders of Brentford made them, and that he had made his father's shoes for years; that his name was Gardner. I then knew his father. They said they were nearly starving, and had been in the shed all night, and had no money, and must sell their shoes. The storm being over, I was going away. Young Gardner jumped down with the shoes, and wanted me to buy them. I said I did not want them; he asked 3 s. 6 d. for them. I refused; he at last said I should have them for 18 d., and I bought them; this was the prisoner Gardner. We were all talking together; I had an opportunity of observing their persons. I went into the fair, met a friend, and went to have a pint of beer with him, at a booth; and while we were drinking, up came these four lads, and said,

"Holla, old boy! give us a drop of beer." They emptied the pot; and one of them said, they would be a pint towards another pot. I ordered a pot; the landlord brought it. I had no change, but six sovereigns. I pulled my purse out; it was narrow, and I could not get my fingers in. I shook it, and out fell the sovereigns. I paid for five pints of beer, and they paid for one. I then twisted my purse up, and put it in my watch-pocket, with the sovereigns, and put 19 s. and three-farthings into my breeches pocket; there were shillings and half-crowns amongst it. They went away; I sat there some time. I went out of the booth to ease myself, and before I could get my clothes down, I saw all four running towards me; the prisoner Gardner struck at me, and I struck at him, and the other three immediately pulled me down on my back; some fell on my legs and arms, and they shoved a

handkerchief into my mouth. I thought I should be strangled; I could not move hand or foot, or call out. They cut out my watch-pocket, where the sovereigns were, and took the silver out of my left-hand pocket, and the pair of shoes I had bought of them. It was done in five minutes. It was about ten o'clock in the evening, and was neither dark nor light. I could see them plainly, and am quite sure the prisoners are three of them. One of them said to the other,

"Have you got it?" he answered,

"D - n his eyes, yes, I have." I am certain they are the men. After they took my money, they jumped up, and away they ran; and as soon as I could catch my breath, I followed them; they ran into the fair. I searched every booth, but could not find them. I thought I would go to the hay-shed. I went and concealed myself behind the shed, and about three o'clock the three prisoners came back with three girls of the town. I laid there till daylight, then got a constable, who took them and put them in the cage - they were not searched till about eleven o'clock, when they were before the Magistrate at Edgware, and Gardner said his brother took all the money away; the Magistrate said he would send them to the house of correction for a month; his brother was not in custody. Gardner was not threatened in any way; what he said was taken down. One of them cut his fingers in cutting my pocket, and left blood on my coat. Their hands were not examined.

Q. You was in their company for an hour and a half by day light - A. Yes; and they were in the booth about half an hour; it was about eight o'clock, and quite daylight; they robbed me before ten o'clock.

Cross-examined by MR. BRODRICK. Q. Are you pretty well known at Edgware - A. I work at Harrow; I have a large family - they are on the parish in consequence of my being robbed - I had not a halfpenny from the parish for twelve months before. The Magistrate knew me because he knew my master. I had received 6 l. 5 s. from Mr. Gould, for cutting twelve and a half acres of beans. I had not above three pints of beer all day, and was as sober as I am now. I told Captain Anderson the Magistrate that I could swear to them, and told him the whole story, but he did not commit them on this charge; they were not searched.

Q. On your oath did you not tell the Magistrate you could not swear to the two taller lads - A. I said I could swear to all four, but as to the little one I could swear to him better than the rest. I told him which was the one who struck at me, but I could not say which of them thrust the handkerchief into my mouth.

Q. Will you swear you did not say you were uncertain about these two men - A. To the best of my knowledge I did not. I will not swear that I did not say so. I said they are the men who robbed me, and I will swear to them. I can swear to them, and the clothes they had on and all, and the Magistrate told me to go to Clerkenwell, and indict them - he committed them for a month, and I went and had them detained.

Q. Did you not take out a warrant before another Magistrate - A. Yes; at Brentford, on the Monday, as they were to come on Friday. I went to Gardener's father to enquire about his brother as they called him - but found he was not a brother; this was nearly a month before the warrant was taken out. I did not ask the father for 2 l. to make it up, but he offered me money several times. He wanted to get me into a hobble.

COURT. Q. Did you state the same story to the Magistrate at Edgware as you have now - A. No, I did not, because he would not give me leave to speak; he told me to hold my tongue. I mentioned the robbery to him. I never expressed a doubt of Gardner, for he is the man who came up and struck me. The other two and another were present.

FRANCIS BOWYER . I am an officer of Isleworth. I apprehended Gardner on Monday, the 9th of September, opposite the Three Pigeons, public-house, at Brentford. I know nothing of the robbery.

Cross-examined. Q. Did you know him before - A. Yes, from a boy. I never knew any harm of him; he has had very good situations. The other two surrendered in the evening on hearing the charge.

WILLIAM STELWELL , I am a constable of Isleworth. Harper brought a warrant to me. I went and took Gardner - he bears a good character. The other two came to my house to surrender themselves.

The prisoners made no Defence.

WILLIAM POWELL . I am an appraiser, and live at Brentford. I was in company with Gardner's father when the prosecutor was talking to him - it was last Sunday three weeks. I heard the prosecutor ask him for 2 l. to settle it - the father was going to give it him at first, but I persuaded him not.

COURT. Q. Who mentioned it first - A. I did not hear the beginning. They had been talking about it before, and came over to the public-house to settle it. Gardner came over with the money in his hand, and I persuaded him not to settle it, as it was compounding felony. The prosecutor said he would take 1 l. then, and 1 l. in a month's time. This was at Brentford. Harper lives at Sunbury, seven miles off.

WILLIAM GABBATUS . I am a shoemaker, and live at Brentford. Three weeks ago last Sunday, I heard the prosecutor say he would make it up for 1 l. now, and 1 l. in a month's time, and two securities for the money, which was refused.

GARDNER - GUILTY - DEATH . Aged 17.

BRIGHT - GUILTY - DEATH . Aged 18.

VIGINTON - GUILTY - DEATH . Aged 18.

Recommended to Mercy, by the Jury, as they did not appear bad characters .

Second Middlesex Jury, before Mr. Justice Richardson.


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