Old Bailey Proceedings Online (www.oldbaileyonline.org, version 8.0, 09 December 2021), September 1822, trial of THOMAS COLE JOHN HARRIS (t18220911-80).

THOMAS COLE, JOHN HARRIS, Violent Theft > highway robbery, 11th September 1822.

1224. THOMAS COLE and JOHN HARRIS were indicted for feloniously assaulting Edward Brown , on the King's high-way, on the 21st of August , putting him in fear, and taking from his person, and against his will, one hat, value 2 s., and one handkerchief, value 2 s. , his property.

EDWARD BROWN . I am a gardner . On the 21st of August, I was at the Wheat Sheaf, public-house, near Fulham , with my wife; I was sober; I saw both the prisoners together. Cole asked for a pint of beer - the landlord refused to draw it. About five minutes after, Cole struck me on the stomach with his fist three or four times. I had never spoken to him. I had a pint pot in my hand,and got away as well as I could - he followed me and kept striking me; and whether he took my hat off, or whether it fell off, I cannot say - they went away directly. I followed them. Harris was in company with him, whether he interfered or not, I cannot say; they were both gone when I missed my hat and handkerchief, which was in it. I accompanied the officer in pursuit, and on our return we met Cole with my hat on his head; Harris was with him. When Cole saw me, he threw the hat off and ran away. I followed and took him to the office; Harris was taken also. My handkerchief was not found; I searched for it in the house - it was not dropped there.

SARAH BROWN . I am the prosecutor's wife, and was with him at the public-house. I saw the prisoners there; Cole came up and struck my husband, and in the scuffle his hat was gone; he struck him two or three times - the prisoners went away immediately together. I looked for the hat in the passage, it was not there; the handkerchief was gone also. I saw the prisoners taken - there were five of them together. I saw Cole put his hand to the hat which was on his head, draw it off, and said,

"Oh! D - n my eyes;" I picked it up - he ran away; Harris stood still, and was taken.

JAMES DINGLEY . I am a patrol. I assisted in taking the prisoners; Mrs. Brown gave me the hat; Cole threw it off his head, and tried to run away. Harris was six or seven yards from him - they both ran. I stopped Harris, and my partner stopped Cole. Harris had not got above five or six yards; there was three or four of them together, the other got away.

(Hat produced and sworn to.).

WILLIAM JUDD . I am a patrol. I assisted in taking them. I saw Cole throw the hat off, saying,

"Oh! G - d d - n it," and tried to escape - I seized him; Harris was there. Brown said he was one of them, and I took him. I cannot swear that he ran; he resisted being handcuffed.

SARAH BROWN . Harris did not stir from the place where he stood. I did not see him run, if he had I think I must have seen him; he might have run while I stooped to pick up the hat.

COLE'S Defence. I was returning from Parson's Green, and went in for a pint of beer; as I came out of the passage, I met an old man with his face cut, and said he had been ill used by Brown the fighting man, better known as the

"Sprig of Myrtle." I saw Brown, and asked him if he was not ashamed to strike an old man, he said No, and struck me; the landlord said it was a shame, and put me out of the house. I said it was a shame, and sat down till my wounds had done bleeding - I then went to look for my hat which had fallen off, I found one, but could not see whether it was mine or not; in about five minutes a woman threw out another hat; and in about half an hour, some people took me - they said,

"That is the man who has got the hat." I said, I had got two; they said if I would stand treat, they would take no notice of it. I refused, and one who said he was an officer, took me.

EDWARD BROWN re-examined. I do not get my living by fighting. I am a gardener; they call me the

"Sprig of Myrtle." I am not a prize fighter. I swear positively that I struck no man there - he was not shut out, for I pursued after him on missing my hat.

Q. Did you ever fight for a prize - A. About three months ago I fought for twenty-five guineas, and have fought before that.

SARAH BROWN . I saw no man with his nose bleeding, nor heard of any man being beaten. My husband never touched the prisoner till he struck him.


Second Middlesex Jury, before Justice Best.