1722 - Proceedings of the Old Bailey (3)
|Topic||Robbery victim dies at the Pindar of Wakefield in Grays Inn Lane|
By Henrik Thiil Nielsen, 2018-01-16. Revised by Henrik Thiil Nielsen, 2021-01-08.
[8 Feb. 1722:]
1. JAMES SHAW, otherways Smith, &c. was found Guilty of Assaulting Charles Hungate, on the 27 of December last, between Highgate and Kentish-Town, and taking from him an Horse value ten Pounds, and eight Shillings in Silver. He was also Convicted of Robbing Philip Potts, on the 24 of June last, of a silver Watch, value five Pounds, and a silver Hilted Sword, value three Pounds, near the Tile-Kilns at Pancrass; and likewise found guilty of the Murthering of the said Philip Potts, by knocking him off his Horse, and then striking him with a large Staff over the Head and Body, while one of his Companions struck at him several times with his own Sword; insomuch, that being carryed to the Pindar of Wakefield, as able to go no farther, he there languished from the Saturday till Monday, and then died.
The Malefactor, was about 28 Years old, and born of Parents who he said, would have given him a competant Share of Learning, had not his Temper been too Unfix'd and Unsettled; which Roving Humour appear'd in his being unable to continue in any 'Prentiship, being tryed at a Forgers of Gun-Locks, and other Trades. Yet he would not own that his Inclination was naturally Vicious, but endeavour'd to cast the whole of his Vices and Calamities upon his Wife, asserting, that one while he acquired by his Industry 9 Shillings per Week when first married, but returning weary from his Work, he constantly found his Wife from home, and all things in a melancholly Confusion, which made him (as he said) resolve no longer to labour to so little purpose. And so deep was his inveterate Hatred engrafted in him against his Wife, that no Threats of Hell Fire, no Assurances of being Forgiven, if he heartily forgave Others, could ever abate this settled Eternity; nor could the Sight or Speech of her be supportable; saying also, that the Child which she had, was nothing related to him.
He said, that he perform'd all that was in his power to obtain God's Pardon for the vast Number of Robberies he had committed: That these Assaults were chiefly made between Hamstead and London, upon those who went to, or return'd from the Wells or Bellsize; and that the Soldiers were but little Hindrance to them: He owned that he had sometimes taken 60 or 80 Pounds at a time; adding, that he had often robb'd both on Horseback on Hamstead-Heath, Finchly-Common, &c. and often on Foot, but that the most Cruel and Savage, was the way of Robbing on Foot, Murther being commonly committed, they having no other method on Foot of escaping from a Horseman, but by striking him down from his Horse, and then either Binding or else Disabling his Body. But he was firmly of Opinion, that, as it is more sinful to rob a poor Man or the Church of God, so it was less sinful to rob those who would have spent the Money taken in Gaiety and Luxury, or those who perhaps had unjustly acquired it by Gaming.
He at first denyed very peremptorily, that he had any hand in the Murther of Philip Potts; asserting, that in all his Robberies he never us'd Violence to any Man, except one who lives at Islington, and whom they rob'd by the Men who hang in Chains at Holloway, and that he only gave him a slap on the Head after he had bawl'd out Rogues! Highwaymen! Murther! for a very long time without any one touching him. But afterwards he began to acknowledge that he was acquainted with all the particulars of the Murther, which Circumstances could by no Method have been so precisely known, but by an actual Survey and Cognisance of the Performance.
He said, that he did not know of anything that had ever touch'd his Heart with Concern or Grief, but the Death of one Barton, who was executed a short time ago, for that he himself ought then to have died, that he robb'd the Lord Viscount Lisbon, as he was going from Hamstead, adding, that he found true, what he could not then keep out of his Mind, to wit, that he should quickly follow to an untimely end.
As Jonas Burgess had declar'd, after he had cut his own Throat, that one of the Pistols which were taken from under his Coat, was design'd for this Prisoner, to dispatch himself withal, he was examin'd about it, but would acknowledge nothing, nor own the barbarous Intent he had of killing those who should oppose the Escape of these 4 Malefactors. He said that Burgess had of late declar'd that his Enemies should never see him go to be hang'd, but if he could not escape, he would die; but the Prisoner said (if true I know not) that he advis'd him to beware of Self-Murther; That as he heard the sad Groans he remember'd how he beg'd him not to say that his Enemies had hindered his getting Pardon; for even, if they had destroy'd his Body, it would be no recompence for himself therefore to destroy his Soul.
IRHB has silently regularized the use of spaces before punctuation marks in the quotation and corrected the HTML text at Proceedings of the Old Bailey from the PDF of the original printed edition.
- Not included in Sussex, Lucy, compil. 'References to Robin Hood up to 1600', in: Knight, Stephen. Robin Hood: A Complete Study of the English Outlaw (Oxford, UK; Cambridge, Massachusetts: Blackwell, 1994), pp. 262-88.
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- Grays Inn Road place-name cluster.