Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 8.0, 04 October 2023), December 1739, trial of William Barkwith (t17391205-3).

William Barkwith, Violent Theft > highway robbery, 5th December 1739.

3. + William Barkwith was indicted for assaulting Geldsborough Griffin , Esq ; on the King's Highway, in the Parish of Heston , putting him in Fear, &c. and taking from him 12 s. in Money , Nov. 13 .

Mr. Griffin. I don't know the Prisoner. I was robb'd about Three o'Clock in the Afternoon, on Tuesday the 13th of November, on Hounslow Heath, in the Parish of Heston , of twelve Shillings. I was coming over the Heath in a Chariot; and the Person that robb'd me, came up with a Pistol, and order'd the Chariot to Stop: It was stopp'd accordingly, and the Man demanded my Money and my Gold, and threaten'd to shoot me. The Glass was drawn up, but he swore he would fire through it, if I did not let it down. Upon this I let it down, and he demanded my Money and Gold, - those were the Words. I told him, I did not travel with Gold about me, because I had no Occasion for it, but I had some Silver, and he was welcome to that; so I put four Half-Crowns and two Shillings into his Hand. I could not discover any thing of his Face, because he had either a Mask or a Crape over it. When he had got my Money he went away, and my Servant told some People who came by, that I had been robb'd by one who was just gone before. They pursu'd him, and took a Man; but I am not certain whether he was the Person that robb'd me. I was coming to London, and so the Man was brought to Town likewise, and was carry'd before Colonel De Veil, and I was present when he was examin'd, but he neither deny'd not confess'd the Fact.

Prisoner. I desire he may be asked, whether he is pretty positive to the Hour?

Mr. Griffin. I reckon it was about Three o'Clock , or between Three and Four; it was light.

Prisoner. I would ask him, if he had a Watch in his Pocket.

Mr. Griffin. I had; but I did not look at it. There was a Gentleman in the Chariot with me at the same time.

Prisoner. I ask him, whether he put the Glass down himself, or the Gentleman that was with him?

Mr. Griffin. The Gentleman who was with me let the Glass down.

Prisoner. Just now he said he let the Glass down himself.

Mr. Griffin. He did it by my Order; - there's nothing in that. As to the Horse the Man was upon, I saw nothing but his Head, the rest of his Body was behind the Chariot Wheel.

Henry Mascal . On Tuesday the 13th of November , I was driving my Master over Hounslow-Heath. About Three o'Clock a Man on Horseback stopp'd me; then he went up to the Side of the Chariot, and swore he would shoot through the Glass, if it was not let down. As soon as the Glass was down, he bid my Master deliver his Silver and Gold: He told the Highwayman, he never travel'd with Gold about him, but always with a little Silver to bear his Charges. When he had got what he could, he rode off, and one Mr. Stone coming along on Horseback I told him, my Master had been robb'd , and he got Assistance, and pursu'd and took the Prisoner, but I can't swear to him; I thought he had rode on a bayish Horse.

Prisoner. I would ask the Witness, whether he did not tell Colonel De Veil, when we were all before him, that he believed I was not the Man.

Mascal. I did say, I thought he was not the Man. - I did not see his Face when the Fact was committed.

Prisoner. I ask him, whether he did not assign two Reasons before Colonel De Veil, why he thought I was not the Man? Whether one was not, - that the Man who robb'd the Chariot had a lighter colour'd Coat; and the other, - that the Man was something taller than I am.

Mascal. I was so frighted, that I could not tell what colour'd Coat he had on; I said nothing like that, but I took him to be a taller Man than the Prisoner. The Prisoner was carry'd before Colonel De Veil the next Morning.

John Stone . I was coming from London the 13th of November, and about Three o'Clock, between Hounslow and Butcher's Grove, I saw a Chariot stopp'd, and a Man at the Side of it. I kept riding on, and saw the Man (who had been at the Chariot) move off When I came to the Chariot, the Servant said, Sir, we have been robb'd by that Person who is just gone along. I rode gently along, and saw a Man turn down towards a Place called Cranford ; I follow'd him, but lost Sight of him at a Turning in the Road: However, I rode to my Lord Berkley 's Steward at Cranford , and borrowed a loaded Gun, then I went in Pursuit of him again till I came to Uxbridge, and in a Lane near Lord Bolingbroke's Park , I saw a Man off his Horse, making Water, and I believ'd him to be the same Man I had pursu'd on Horseback; but as I was alone, I did not chuse to attack him myself, so I stopp'd my Horse, and turn'd him round, and saw a Man coming to my Assistance with a Blunderbuss. Then we went forward, and the Man fled; we rode very hard after him, but my Assistant's Horse's Bridle happening to break, we were obliged to stop a little, and so the Person we pursu'd got out of our Sight. For some little time we kept on in the straight Road, but not seeing him, we turn'd towards Arlington-Fields , and went down a Lane into an open Field, and there my Companion caught Sight of him again. He (finding himself pursu'd) rode into a Lane that leads to Lord Bolingbroke's Park , but there being a Gentleman's House at the End of the Lane, he turn'd his Horse short, and came up again by the Canal, where he met us full-but, and we were within forty or fifty Yards of him, only there were some Pales and a Ditch with Water between. When he saw us so very near him, he seem'd to be very much surprized, and put his Hand into his Pocket, or Bosom, as if he felt for his Pistol; upon which the Man who was with me bid him stop, or he was a dead Man. I cry'd, - for God's Sake don't shoot him, and then the Prisoner turn'd short again, his Hat sell off, and he rode away without it, through a Place where there were near twenty People grubbing up Wood. We follow'd him, and cry'd, Highwayman! Highwayman! but lost Sight of him again. We hunted after him an Hour; and Night coming on, we gave him over for lost; but as I was making the best of my Way home towards Drayton, in a common Field I stood still a little, to consider which was my nearest Way. While I stood still, a Man halloo'd to me and I saw three Men had got hold of the Prisoner. I am positive the Prisoner is the Man they had seiz'd. When I got up to them, I bid them carry him to a Publick-House, and I think I gave the Constable Charge of him myself.

Prisoner. I would humbly request he may be ask'd, if he is sure I am the Person he had been in Pursuit of?

Mr. Stone. I can't take upon me to say he is the same Man I pursu'd; for I never was so near him as to see his Face plainly, and his Cape was done up about it. The Horse he rode on was a brown bay Mare or Gelding.

Robert England . I was Servant to my Lord Berkley at Cransord . Mr. Stone came to my Lord's Steward to borrow a Gun, and to ask for Assistance to take a Highwayman. The Steward desired me to follow his Friend Mr. Stone, and assist him. I took a Horse out of the Stable, and a Blunderbuss in my Hand, and overtook Mr. Stone in Lord Bolingbroke's Lane . There we had the Prisoner in Sight, and rode hard after him, but my Horse's Bridle happening to break, I was obliged to clap my Hands round his Neck to stop him a little while, and in the mean time we lost the Prisoner. As soon as we could, we followed him again, and upon Enquiry, we were told he had rode hard down the Lane; so we made after him, and saw him; which he perceiving, made a short Turn, round a Hedge by a Canal, into a Place where there were high Pales, and a Ditch between us, and here we met him. When he saw us coming up to him, he pulled a Pistol out of his Pocket; upon which I presented my Blunderbus at him, and told him, if he did not stand, I would shoot him. He seeing this, turned his Horse short; his Hat sell off, and he made the best of his Way to get off. This was about Three o'Clock. We rode hard after him; he whipp'd, and I whipp'd; but I lost Sight of him near Lord Bolingbroke's. After this we enquired of some People who were grabbing up Roots , if a Man had not rode by, without a Hat? They told us he was just gone past, but I never got fight of him more: For Mr. Stone and I parted soon after: he turned toward Cranford , and I went to Hounslow .

Prisoner. Is he sure I am the Man he Pursued?

England. Yes; I am sure he is the Man. I was not very near him, but I was near enough to see some of his Face, when I came up with him against the Pales, but not enough to know it again.

Prisoner. Why then do you think I am the same Man you pursued?

England. By his Dress: He had a Surrout Coat and a Hood on it, to pull over his Head, and it was pulled over his Head at that same time; he was a thin young Gentleman, and such he seems to be now. His Horse I took to be a bay Gelding, but it proves to be a bay Mare.

Samuel Simon . I saw the Prisoner come riding very hard down a wide common Field (in the Parish of Drayton ) without a Hat. His Horse was very much sweared, and in leaping over a Brook, the Horse and Rider had like to have been down . He turn'd the Corner of the Hedge, and in a Minute's Time I saw him on Foot; then I and two others pursu'd him down a little Lane, over a Hedge, into a Field, where we found him with a Pistol in his Hand, attempting to shoot himself through the Head: I begg'd of him not to shoot himself, and then he turn'd the Point of the Pistol toward me, and snapp'd it; I saw Fire, but it did not go off. I was fearful because of the Pistol, and fell back; but finding he could not make the Pistol go off, I went up to him, and took him with it in his Hand. He told us he would hurt none of us, and said, he was ruin'd and undone, for he had robb'd a Gentleman's Coach. We ask'd him how much he got from the Coach; he told us 12 s. but he had abused nobody, and therefore he begg'd upon his Knees we would let him go. We told him we dar'd not, and took him down the Field with us, and call'd to Mr. Stone. As we were carrying him along, he told us, there was a Man in Pursuit of him, upon a grey Horse.

Mr. Stone. I rode after him upon a grey Horse.

Prisoner. Ask him, if he is positive I mention'd a grey Horse, and if I did not say 'twas a white Horse.

Simon. He said it was a Man on a grey Horse.

Prisoner. Ask him, whether I surrender'd myself, or whether they took me by Force?

Simon. At the very Instant that I took hold of him, he said, he would not hurt any of us. This is the Pistol he then had; 'tis in the same Condition as it was at that Time. [The Pistol was unscrew'd, and was loaded with one Ball.]

John Taylor . As my Brother and I were coming along Dragon-Feild , at the Corner of the Hedge, we met the Prisoner riding, without a Hat. He rode a great Pace, and came up just against us, frequently looking behind him as he rode. He got over the Brook, and rode round the Corner of a Hedge, and was then out of our Sight. In a small Time he came up a Lane into our View again, and after he had stopp'd a little while, he turn'd round, and went back again. Then we follow'd him, and found his Coat and his Whip in the Lane, but I did not see him quitting his Horse; it was in a Place call'd Holloway-Lane . I saw him run out of the Lane, into the open Field, and I follow'd him thither, with a Stake I had got out of a Hedge: In this Field I saw him stand with a Pistol against his Head; then he put it into his Pocket, and pull'd out another: He made two Attempts to shoot himself. When I came up to him, he said, If you'll use me like a Man, I will surrender to you. We told him, we would not hurt him, and desir'd him to put down his Pistols; one of them he put into his Pocket , and the other he kept in his Hand, which the former Witness took from him. This is the Pistol he had in his Pocket: I took it from thence, and 'tis loaded with one Ball, but there's not above a Corn or two of Powder in the Pan. He fell down on his Knees, and begg'd we would let him go, telling us he was ruin'd, for he had robb'd a Gentleman's Coach upon Hounslow-Heath , of 12 s. and had been pursu'd by a Man upon a grey Horse. As we carry'd him to Drayton , we met Mr. Stone, who search'd him, but found nothing more upon him.

William Marsh , Brother in Law to the last Witness, confirm'd the former Witnesses.


Prisoner. There are several Gentlemen in Court, who well know, I have had the Honour to serve Mr. John Lewis of Lincolns Inn many Years, in the Quality of a Clerk. He is now retir'd into the Country, and having no Occasion for a Clerk, he disiniss'd me. Before my Dismission from his Service, I had Orders to go to Mr. Leak of Denham , to settle an Account between his present Wife and a Gentleman deceased, and I was now going to put the finishing Stroke to them. As to my carrying Pistols, I humbly hope I had some Reason so to do, the Roads being so much infested with Highwaymen, and as I was not of so much Quality as to ride with Holsters, I thought it more decent to carry them in my Pocket. I did not ride from these Gentlemen, till they in a most furious Manner rode after me, nor did I ride fast, till they threaten'd to shoot me; and I rode over common Fields, till I thought I was out of their Hands, but perceiving somebody at a Distance, like the Man who Pursu'd me. I got off my Horse to screen myself from him. The Truth is, I did not confess any thing to these Men, but they have swore thus for Lucre and for the Reward; and as to my offering to shoot myself, that is of a Piece with the rest.

John Howel , Esq; Mr. Lewis of Lincolns-Inn was my Clerk some Years ago: He afterward took Chambers himself, and the Prisoner was his Clerk for six or seven Years. He intrusted him, and he serv'd him faithfully till about July or August last, when, having no great Occasion for a Clerk, he discharged him. The Prisoner has likewise done Business for me; I have observ'd him to be industrious for many Years, and this is the first Fault I have heard of him.

John Hopkins , Esq; I have had Chambers in Lincolns-Inn many Years; and Mr. Lewis being a particular Friend of mine the Prisoner has frequently been at my Chambers; I never observ'd him to have behav'd ill, and I believe if his Master had, he would have told me. As to this Fact, I have nothing to say.

Mr. John Jenkins . I have Chambers on the next Stair-Case to Mr. Lewis. The Prisoner was several Years a hired Clerk to him. I had an Intimacy with Mr. Lewis; and the Prisoner, in his Matter's Absence, has often come to my Chambers for Instructions. When he has not been employ'd in his Master's Business, I have employ'd him myself, and have observ'd him to be a very industrious young Fellow. He has engross'd Writings for me, (when he has been at Leisure) and has earn'd considerable Sums of Money: He has receiv'd several Sums for me, and likewise upon his Master's Account; the last Money I paid him was I think in July last . He was a Person I should not have suspected to have been guilty of such a Fact.

Mr. David Lewis . Mr. Lewis, who was the Prisoner's Master, is a distant Relation of mine, I have known this young Man as his Clerk for many Years. I look'd upon him as a careful industrious young Man, one who had a very fair Character, and I never heard any thing otherwise of him till now.

Thomas Lewis . The Prisoner was my Brother's hired Clerk, about five or six Years. My Brother has been out of Town about two Years and a Half, during which Time he has been intrusted with Affairs of great Consequence, and continu'd to act for him as his Clerk till very lately. My Brother has wrote me Word, that he has Effects in his Chambers to the Value of several Hundred Pounds, and if the Prisoner had been in such Distress as tempted him to illegal Courses, he believes he would sooner have disposed of some of those, than have run this Risque. In Confirmation of his Master's good Opinion of him, he de sired me to supply him with what he wanted in Goal. I have heard his Master often give him a good Character, and have heard him say, he intended to be the making of him. He intended to have been here himself, but some Affairs of Consequence prevented him, and he is at the Distance of 150 Miles from hence.

The Jury found the Prisoner Guilty, Death . But recommended him to his Majesty's Clemency .