Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 8.0, 18 August 2018), December 1783, trial of ROBERT CROSS (t17831210-6).

ROBERT CROSS, Violent Theft > highway robbery, 10th December 1783.

6. ROBERT CROSS , was indicted for feloniously assaulting Sir William Jarvis Twissden , on the King's highway, in the parish of Friers Barnet , on the 10th of November , and putting him in fear and danger of his life, and feloniously taking from his person and against his will one repeating gold watch value 10 l. one black silk ribbon value 1 d. two red cornelian seals set in gold value 6 l. one yellow cornelian seal set in gold value 40 s. one base metal watch key value 1 d. one silk purse value 12 d. and six guineas in monies numbered, his property .

SIR WILLIAM JARVES TWISSDEN, BARONET , sworn.

On the 10th of November, I was travelling in a post-chaise about five o'clock.

What sort of an evening was it? - It was rather a foggy evening; I was stopped before I came to the turnpike.

Court. In the parish of Friers Barnet? - I believe it is in the parish of Whetstone; a man came up on the side of Captain Garforth , who was with me; my servant was gone on before; he told the postboys to stop, we had four horses, the boys did not pay any attention to him at first; then they stopped, he came to the side of Captain Garforth , and said, gentlemen your money and watches.

Were the glasses up or down? - Up.

Did he present a pistol? - He did, the glasses were immediately pulled down; I gave him my silk purse which contained six guineas, or six guineas and a half, and my gold repeating watch.

What seals were there to it? - Three gold seals, two red cornelian and one yellow, and a base metal key.

Court. Did Captain Garforth deliver his money too? - He did, the highwaymen immediately turned his horse and galloped away towards London.

Had he any disguise on his face? - No.

Did you give him the money across Captain Garforth ? - Yes.

Was your glass down or up? - I think my glass was down, or partly down.

Can you speak to the countenance of the man? - Perfectly well.

Was the prisoner at the bar the person? - The very same.

You swear that was the man? - Yes.

Did he turn himself towards you, so that you had a full view of his countenance? - He was rather muffled up.

Did you see his face? - I cannot say I saw all his face, I saw his countenance.

You are sure that is the man? - Yes, as soon as he went away from us the postboys were going on, I immediately hallooed out to them to stop; I jumped out of the carriage, I had a pair of pistols but they were not loaded; I ordered one of the postboys to unharness his horse immediately and ride after him, I swore he might take them if he pleased.

Did he do so? - Yes, he is here. We stopped on the Common about half and hour, then we went on three horses to the Red Lion, at the bottom of the hill; in about half an hour the postboy returned, and said the man was secured upon which I went back.

Did you see the man that night or the next morning? - The next morning.

You knew him again very well? - Directly.

Prisoner. I ask no questions, my Lord, I acknowledge I am guilty of the crime that is laid to my charge.

CAPT. FRANCIS GARFORTH sworn.

I was in the post-chaise when it was stopped, the highway man came to my side, the glass was up, I put the glass down, he asked for our money, I gave him mine and my watch.

What sort of a night was it? - It was rather foggy and about five in the evening.

Had he any disguise on his face, or was he muffled up at all? - Not the least.

How was his great coat? - It was buttoned.

Was that the man? - Yes, my Lord.

Did you get out and, direct the pursuit, or did you remain in the chaise? - I got out and walked about; and when I got to the Red Lion I had an account the man was taken.

You are positive that is the man? - Confident.

Were the things found? - Every thing found upon him.

ROBERT MEAD sworn.

I was one of the post-chaise boys that drove these gentlemen.

Are you a London post-boys? - Yes.

What inn did you came from? - The Swan-yard, in Oxford-street.

What time in the evening might you set out with these gentlemen? - When we went by Oxford Chapel the clock struck four, we were stopped about a quarter of a mile on this side the eight mile stone; we got there in less than an hour.

Court. What parish is that? - I do not know.

In what manner was your chaise stopped? - He came up to the chaise, I heard somebody speak, I thought it was a gentleman that wanted to speak to Sir William, I saw a pistol in his hand, I heard him cry stop, I stopped directly.

Was it light enough for you to see his countenance? - Yes.

The gentlemen were robbed, were not they, as you believe? - Yes.

Could you see the highwayman's face at the time he was the chaise? - Yes.

Was that the man? - That is the man.

Then you must look back - I did.

He took nothing from either of you post-boys? - No.

Which way did he go? - To London as fast as he could gallop.

Had he a good horse under him? - A very poor horse.

I suppose you took the best of your horses to pursue him? - I took the horse I rode, and I pursued him; Sir William desired, me to pursue him.

What coloured horse did the highwayman ride? - A grey mare.

How soon might it be before you overtook him? - I overtook him in the space of a mile, at the Green Man, he walked up the hill, and I kept sight of him about 2 or 300 yards behind; I had no pistols.

How soon did you venture to got up with him? - When he came to Highgate, I got as near, him as I could, then I hallooed stop thief, I was got up the hill opposite the Bull there were three men going through Highway on horseback they tried to stop him but did not, he kept going down the Holloway mad, and when he came about half way down the hill, I was obliged to run my horse up against a waggon, or else I must have gone by him; my horse went so fast I could not stop him: I then heard two reports of a pistol. I was then about fifty or sixty yards from him; after that I got close to him and met with a horse patrol, and he would not assist me; I called to him to assist me, and told him of it, and he would not; there happened to be two gentlemen on the road one going to London and the other to Whetstone, one Mr. Dalton and one Mr. Cooper and they insisted on the patrol coming to assist me; with that the patrol came up and said to the gentlemen, that it was a false report; then the highwaymen came forword, and he and the patrol and me were all side by side, I thought he was going to catch hold of us; the patrol had arms. Then the patrol went back again and would not assist me; the gentlemen went about their business I told him I would not want any assistance if he would lend me his hanger; the patrol would not; then the prisoner rode away from me for the space of eight or ten minutes; the patrol went and sent three men but he never came himself: then the prisoner was taken.

Who took the prisoner? - I am not sure whether I caught hold of the reins first, or whether the patrol did.

Did the prisoner make any resistance? - No, my Lord, he begged the favour of them to let him ride on his horse; he was taken to the Half Moon at Holloway, we took him off the horse and he walked.

Was he searched there? - Yes, we found two gold watches and a purse; we searched him after he got into the room.

What were the two firings that you heard? - He fired first at the watchmen, and then the watchman fired at him.

You swear the prisoner is the man? - Yes.

Court. It seems to me a little extraordinary, that as he had fired at the watchman and the watchman had fired at him, that he did not make the best of his way to town? - He made the best of his way, but his horse would not go.

THOMAS BROWN sworn.

I am a watchman from Whittingstone to the Crown at Highgate.

Do you remember any thing happening on the night of the 10th of November last, when you was on the watch? - I was on my duty, about the middle of the hill, and I heard a great noise of stop thief, Stop thief; I went off the foot-path into the road; I saw horsemen and footmen coming, down the hill, and then there came a man by on a grey horse, and he fired at me.

How came he to fire at you, did you attempt to stop him? - I did not.

What did did you do then? - I fired at him; he rode on, I did not take him.

Can you tell whether that is the man or no? - No.

You was not there when he was taken? - No.

THOMAS FISHER sworn.

I keep the Half Moon in Holloway.

Do you recollect any man being brought to your house on the 10th of November? - Yes.

Who brought him in there? - John Prince , he is one of the patrol.

Who was with him? - William Scott , they are both patrols.

Was the postboy with him? - I cannot recollect whether he was or no.

It was the prisoner that was brought in. - Yes.

What time of night might that be? - About half past five to the best of my knowledge.

I should think it must be later. - No, I think not; it was a grey mare the prisoner rode, he is the man, he was searched in my parlour.

(The watches produced and deposed to.)

Prisoner. I have nothing to say; I do not wish to give the Court any unnecessary trouble; I have people for my character that I never was guilty of any thing before.

- SCOTT sworn.

Was you one of the patrol? - Yes.

Who took him? - Prince and me.

Was the postboy with you? - He was hard by, he did not lay hold of him; he put the pistol to my head and I took it from him, one pistol was loaded and the other was unloaded.

FOR THE PRISONER.

JOHN UXLEY sworn.

I am a turner in Hart-street, Cripplegate; I have known the prisoner about fifteen months to the best of my knowledge.

What is the prisoner? - He has been a Captain in the navy .

Court to Prisoner. In whose service was you, Sir My Lord, I was in the searching line, but not in that line.

Uxley. in lodged the house with him; I understood he was a Captain in the navy, and had a great deal of prize money and lived upon it; I spent many evenings with him both at home and abroad, and I took him to be a very honest man by his behaviour and conduct.

Court to Prisoner. Was you ever in the King's service? - Yes, my lord.

In what capacity? - I was master at arms.

JOHN MALKIN sworn.

I have known the prisoner three months; I am a taylor, I always worked for him, I never knew any thing but just and honest by him.

MARY SIDDALL sworn.

The prisoner lodged in my house fifteen. months, he believed very soberly and very orderly, I had a good recommendation of him when he came, into my house from the beadle of the parish; my house is in Frying-pan Alley, Wood-street; he always was at home by ten; he had a first floor one part of that me, and the other a two pair of stairs rooms.

What business did he follow? - When he came to me I understood he had money, he was recommended to me.

ELIZABETH GLOVER sworn.

I live at the next door, I have known the prisoner upwords of twelve months; he was always, very orderly and sober, and a civil neighbour, I never thought anything amiss of him till I heard this affair.

Court to Jury. Gentlemen, I examined these witness to see what general character was; It is surprizing that nobody knows any thing of this man before these last fifteen months.

Mr. Baron Hothom to Prisoner. What ship was you master at arms in? - The Gibraltar.

How came you not to go with the Gibraltar? abroad? - I came on shore sick.

Was you discharged? - Yes, my misfortune is at present that I am far from my acquaintance and friends.

What countryman are you? - An Irishman; I was in a line of life since I came to London, that I maintained myself with out going out in any such way, but a scene of losses and misfortunes brought me to it; it was my first offence, I hope your Lordship, and the Gentlemen of the Jury will look upon me as an object worthy to recommended to mercy.

GUILTY , Death .

Prisoner. I never, so help me God, intended to hurt the man, but as any man in my situation would wish to get clear when they came up on each side; but, so help me God, I no more intended to hurt the man, any more than I do now to fire at your Lordship.

Jury. My Lord, it is the general sense of the Jury to recommend the prisoner for mercy.

Court. You look upon it to be his first offence then I suppose, Gentlemen? - Yes, we do, my Lord.

Court. Let Robert Mead the postboy have 20 l. the two petrolmen, Prince and Scott, 7 l. 10 s. each, Brown the watchman 4 l. and Fisher 20 s.

Tried by the second Middlesex Jury before Mr. Justice WILLES.