Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 8.0, 09 December 2023), September 1769, trial of JOSEPH SIMPSON (t17690906-101).

JOSEPH SIMPSON, Violent Theft > highway robbery, 6th September 1769.

542. (M.) JOSEPH SIMPSON was indicted for putting Edward Snape in corporal fear on the King's highway, and taking from him half a guinea and two half crowns, the money of the said Edward, against his will , August 15 . ++

Edward Snape . I am a horse doctor , and live in Grosvenor-Mews. I was coming home from Barnet races, on Tuesday the 15th of August, about a quarter before eight, and opposite Brown's well, about two or three hundred yards beyond the seven mile stone, on Finchley Common , in the summer road, in a Phaeton and pair, I was stopped by the prisoner at the bar. I heard something give a great snap: I thought the spring had broke. While I was looking at the spring, the prisoner was upon my fore-wheel, before I was aware of him. He was on horseback, on the right side. He cried, Holo! I raised up my head; then he put up his hand and said stop! I thought he wanted to know something concerning the races. He said, Your money, Sir! He spoke so low, I leaned over towards him, and said, What is that you say, Sir? Then I saw the muzzle of a pistol to my breast. I thought it not a time to dispute the point, so I told him what little I had he should be welcome to. I then saw three gentlemen and a lady coming on horseback. I put my hand in my pocket and pulled out two half crowns. There happened to be half a guinea between them. He accepted of it, but seemed to dispute whether that was all. I believe he heard some gold drop from my hand in my pocket: he said, Is that all? I said, Yes. He turned off, and went away; with his hand to his mouth, between the three gentlemen and me. I did not chuse to speak very loud. I beckoned to them with my hand, meaning for them to stop him. He went off a foot pace till he got past them; then he set into a gallop. When they came up, I told them that man had robbed me. They turned and rode after him; they turned him several times, but I went on, and was off the ground before he was taken. I did not know that night that he was taken. He had been taken before the Justice before I saw him. The first of my seeing him after this, was on the Wednesday sevennight following. I was a little struck at first seeing him, and was very sorry to see him. I was very sure he was the man, and so I am now.

Cross Examination.

Q. Was you always in the same way of thinking, that he was the man that robbed you?

Snape. When before Justice Fielding, I was asked if the prisoner was like the man. I said I believed he was the man, but I did not chuse then to swear to him. I reserved that to myself then.

Q. Were there not many people on the road at the time you was robbed?

Snape. There were a great many people near me. There was a man with a cart. I believe there were an hundred people in sight at the time, before and behind.

Alexander Markes . I am servant to Mr. Samuel Maryate . I was returning from Barnet races. I came very softly all the way, till I came to Finchley-common. I turned out upon the summer road, and I saw a parcel of people riding towards me. As they came just opposite me, I heard a gentleman call out, Stop the highwayman! Stop the highwayman! Will nobody help to take this man? He was in strong pursuit after him. I joined him. The highwayman rode past me. I left the turnpike road on the right hand, and the man came between me and a gate. He was dressed in a brown coat and a black waistcoat. I looked at him, and thought the gentleman that had called out might be in a joke at first. They all rode as fast as they could. The man turned rather to the right, and went down under a hedge. He galloped a good way, (the hedge ran pretty long) till he came to a turning, where he turned very short. There were two gentlemen near him. In turning short, they and their horses fell. I took more room in turning, and galloped by; and in about a quarter of a mile farther the prisoner fell from his horse.

Q. Did his horse fall with him?

Markes. If his horse had fell with him, I must have been up with him before his horse could rise again. His horse ran away. The prisoner was stunned by the fall. I got off my horse, and was going up to him. There I picked up a pistol. (Produced in Court.) I was willing to see if it was charged. I found it loaded with a brace of balls, and some powder, but the priming was out. There a couple of young men came up: one of them said, What have you got there? I shewed them the pistol. They got off their horses and searched him, and found another pistol and a powder horn upon him; and bringing him along, they took a gardener's knife from him. We tied his hands and brought him away to town to Justice Girdler's. The Justice was not at home. Then we took him to a public-house, and sent for a constable, who took him away to goal. We went with him to Justice Girdler the next morning. There was Joseph Gregory , a coachman, who took the pistol from the prisoner's pocket. The pistols were produced, the prisoner owned they were his pistols, and said he bought them to frighten birds from his seeds. The constable searched him, and took half a guinea and two half crowns from him the night he was taken.

Bateman Saddington. I was coming from Barnet races in company with two gentlemen and a lady. About fifty yards before me on the left hand, coming from Barnet, I saw a Phaeton stand still, and a man at it. I was in conversation with the lady, and took bu little notice. The man left the Phaeton and came forward, rather between a walk and a trot. The gentleman beckoned with his hand. I thought he was beckoning to some of his acquaintance. After the man got past me, the gentleman said, That man has robbed me, Sir. I said, Robbed you, Sir! How do you mean? I could hardly believe that a man would commit a robbery at such a public time as that. Said he, He is a highwayman, he has clapped a pistol to me, and robbed me. I asked him who he was; he told me his name, and said he lived in Grosvenor Mews. I turned my horse and pursued. Said Mr. Smith, who was with me, I will bring him back presently. He rode after him as hard as he could, and got ground of me. They went up the road. I found I had no chance, so I partly stopped my horse. I looked after them, and found they turned back again. I went a-cross and met them. Then I had a full view of them, and had some time for reflection. Then I thought to ride up to the man, and knock him down, as I had a cane in my hand; but he presented a pistol to me. I got from the direction of the pistol, and came behind him; but not being able to get up to him, I left the pursuit. He was in a brown coat, had on a very remarkable bushy wig, and was pitted with the small pox, with black breeches, but no boots on. I believe the prisoner is the man; he is like him. I came back to the lady, who was sitting on her horse by the road-side crying, so was not on the spot when he was taken. Mr. Smith came to us, and said, We have got him. Then it was almost dark.


Q. Were there not many people on the road at this time?

Saddington. There were a great many people on the public road, but very few on that road. When the gentleman beckoned to us, I believe there were more than an hundred people in sight; that was I believe about an hundred yards from the public road. There were a great number of people on the public road, but mostly in carriages.

Anthony Smith . As I was coming from Barnet with this gentleman and a lady, I saw a Phaeton about fifty yards before me stop. After the man had left it, the prosecutor pointed out his hand, when I found it was a highwayman. I said, I will fetch him back, and if he goes for Whetstone, I will have him at the turnpike. He turned his horse round towards Coney-hatch, and I turned after him. I saw his hand go towards his pocket. I came up with him; he pulled a pistol out of his pocket and held it at me for the space of about two hundred yards. One of the gentlemen in company crossed behind him, and struck him on the right side his head with a stick; but I believe the man saved the blow with his hand. Upon which the gentleman called to me, and said, For God's sake keep farther off him, or he will shoot you. I replied, I am not afraid of that. Soon after this, another young fellow crossed upon him, and said, You shall see me knock him down; and I believe before the words were well out of his mouth, his horse fell, and I saw his four feet all up in the air. After that the prisoner's horse fell, and he was taken.


Q. When you first saw him, what pace did he go?

Smith. When I first saw him, he was moving gently, till the word highwayman was called out. I imagine he had no other way of saving himself, but by mixing himself with the people coming from the races. I suppose there were a hundred people in sight between there and the turnpike.

Q. How near the public road was the Phaeton stopped?

Smith. It was about four-score yards from the public road.

Thomas Slade . I was the constable. I found two half crowns and a half guninea upon the prisoner. (Produced in Court.)

Prisoner's Defence.

I am innocent. I leave it to my counsel to call witnesses to my character.

To his Character.

Timothy Walker . I live at Tottenham, and am a dealer in wine. I have known the prisoner about eleven or twelve years. I collect the rent of the house where he lives, and he always paid me very honestly. I never heard a word amiss of him in my life. He is a very sober honest man.

John Davis . I am a collector of the toll at Tottenham. I lodged at the prisoner's house three years. I have known him ten or eleven years. I never knew any harm of him in my life. He was accounted as honest a man as any in the parish. He is a master gardener .

Mr. Hunter. I have known him between ten and eleven years. I never heard any thing amiss of him in my life before this. I lived overagainst him all the time.

Mr. Thomas. I am a fruiterer, and live in St. Ann's Court, St. James's. I have known him fourteen or fifteen years. His character was always that of a very just, sober, honest man.

Mr. Hariot. I keep the White Hart at Tottenham. I have known him near eleven years. I always looked upon him to be an industrious, sober, honest man.

Mr. Carthorn. I am a gardener. I have known him almost eleven years. He has a very good character, and is as well-behaved a man as ever came into my house. He lodged with me almost twelve months.

Robert Thompson . I am a gardener. I have known him upwards of ten years. His character is that of as honest a man as any in the world.

Thomas Figget . I live at Tottenham. I have known him between eight and nine years. I always looked upon him to be a very honest man, and a good neighbour.

Thomas Holland . I am a gardener. I have known him between seven and eight years. His character is an extraordinary good one.

Ambrose Cook . I have known him five years. He has an extraordinary good character.

William Prye . I am a wheel-wright, and live at Tottenham. I have known him between five and six years. I never heard a man have a better character.

William Crofts . I live at Tottenham. I have known him about eight or nine years. He has always behaved himself as well as any person in the parish. I hardly ever heard an ill word come out of his mouth.

Guilty . Death .