Robin Hood (High Holborn)
|Adm. div.||Middlesex, now Greater London|
|Vicinity||281 High Holborn|
|Interest||Robin Hood name|
|A.k.a.||Old Robin Hood; Robin Hood Tavern; Robinhood|
By Henrik Thiil Nielsen, 2018-06-16. Revised by Henrik Thiil Nielsen, 2021-02-13.
The Robin Hood on High Holborn, known as the Old Robin Hood by 1797, is probably the Robin Hood referred to in a 1757 case at the Old Bailey.
Since there were three Robin Hood pubs in Holborn – Robin Hood (High Holborn), Robin Hood (Holborn), Robin Hood (Leather Lane, Holborn) – it can be difficult to distinguish them in records like the Old Bailey case reports listed below, but the one we are concerned with here is most often identified as being on High Holborn, on Holborn Hill or just on Holborn. It also helps the identification when it is said to be near some street that is situated a little west of those that tend to be mentioned in connection with the two other pubs, but there are cases where identification must remain uncertain.
Information on publicans, employees and family members gleaned from trade and street directories for the period 1805–1938 can be found at UK Pub History (see Sources below). Sun Fire insurance records show that the publican at the 'Old Robin Hood' in 1797 was a George Price.
14 Sep. 1757:]
Q. from Price. What day was this, or what time of the day ?
Bell. To the best of my knowledge it was between ten and twelve. I do not know the day of the month. We went to a publick house near the edge of the town, I think it was the Robin Hood in Holbourn, just by Little Queen street. We found some half crowns, some shillings, some halfpence, and a silver groat. I can't be positive to the sum, because those that took the money out of the prosecutor's pocket, sunk some of it; we had each of us about half a crown. Then we went to our lodgings. I then lodg'd in Bolton-street, at a coach-maker's.
26 Apr. 1786:]
JOHN BEVAN sworn.
I am a tallow-chandler, I live in Red-cross-street, I have known the prisoner about three years: On the 21st of March, I met the prisoner near the end of Aylesbury-street, Clerkenwell-green, he asked me if I did not buy a good deal of stuff, meaning kitchen stuff and dripping; I told him I had, but markets was down; he said he had a friend that had some halfpence, and put his hand in his pocket and pulled out two or three; he said they went undeniable at Wapping, and if I would buy any of him, he would sell me 30 s. for a guinea. I told him I was going to Wapping, and would enquire whether or no they went there, if they did, I would buy some: this I told him, in order that I might bring him to justice, I thought it a duty incumbent on me, if possible, to bring him to justice. I went once or twice to Clerkenwell-green to tell the affair the next day, on the 23d I went again, Justice Girdler was there, and a young gentleman his son; I related the story to them, and young Mr. Girdler directed me to the Solicitor of the Mint, Mr. Vernon, and he directed me to Mr. Clarke at Bow-street; I told Mr. Clarke the story, and the prisoner's name, and he knew him by the name of the Cheap Butcher; Mr. Clarke told me to buy half a guinea's-worth of halfpence; on the 27th I met the prisoner, I did not see him till then, I told him I would take half a guinea's-worth of halfpence, if he would bring them at four o'clock; he appointed the Robinhood in Holborn, as I was going there, I met the prisoner, and he told me he could not possibly come till five, I waited there, and the prisoner made it eight, when he came, there was another person waiting for him, he went out with the other man, and returned in two or three minutes; he then came to me, and said, how many do you want? I said half a guinea's-worth, he brought some halfpence from the other man, and laid them on the table, and received silver for them; the prisoner then came and sat down by me; he gave me a paper that was done up square; this has been open since, which I gave him half a guinea for; there were three five-shilling papers of halfpence; there were three hundred and sixty in the whole, I counted them the next morning.
Did you know they were bad? - No, Sir, I do not know, of my own knowledge; Mr. Clarke has seen them; I carried them to Mr. Clarke directly, when I received the halfpence, he pulled out a shilling out of his pocket, and said he was queered; I likewise asked if he had any silver to sell; I met him again at the Robinhood, in Holborn; Ting and another attended there to apprehend him, but he was taken at the Magpye in Middle-row, with two separate half guinea's worth of half-pence, and some silver, which I was to buy.
[21 Apr. 1819:]
JAMES ILES. I am a porter at the George and Blue Boar - I deliver the parcels. On the 6th of April I assisted in unloading the coach. The guard directed my attention to a basket, directed to Mrs. Ward, No. 41, Compton-street, St. John-street, Clerkenwell - it was fastened with strings. In consequence of what Mayo said to me, I was induced to undo one corner of it. I got one hand in, and felt something like a fowl with feathers on - on putting my hand a little further, I felt a paper parcel; I then undid it a little more, pulled the parcel out, and opened it - it was folded up. It contained bank notes. One bundle contained five notes not tied up; what the other contained I do not know - this was at the Robin Hood, public-house, in Holborn. I immediately told the landlord, and showed it to him - I then took it to Mr. C. Ibbertson, who was my master, gave him the basket we had undone there, and found six rolls of notes tied up in one parcel. Mr. Ibberson, another gentleman, and myself, then went to the Bank, and left the basket locked up in Mr. Ibbertson's private office. Sometime after, Mr. Ibbertson called me, and told me to pack the basket up as before, which I did in his presence, and put the notes in again. I went with my cart as usual - Foy and Mr. Milton followed me to Compton-street. I stopped short of the door, and was pulling the basket out of the cart - I had not time to knock at the door, before the female prisoner came out, putting a smile on her countenance. I went up to her with the basket under my arm, and said, "Mrs. Ward, is this right?" and looking at the direction - "Yes," she said, "my name is Ward." I said, "I have a basket for you, which comes to 2 s. 2 d." She gave me 2 s. 6 d., and said, "Give me 4 d." I had given her the basket. I said I had no halfpence - she said, "Never mind the halfpence, keep them." I said, "Good woman, I don't want them," and gave her the 6 d. back, upon which she turned her head towards the door, and said, "William, have you any halfpence?" a man's voice said, "No, I have not." She put her hand into her own pocket, and gave me 2 1/2 d. I took it, and went away. Before I left the door, Foy came up and went in. It is a private house.
Cross-examined. by MR. ALLEY. Q. Were you authorized to open parcels - A. No. I did not tell my master or the book-keeper that I meant to open it. I told the landlord of the Robin Hood. I have been four years in my place.
Q. I suppose you did not put the paper parcel there yourself - A. No. The Robin Hood is about ten doors from our inn.
MR. REYNOLDS. Q. Had the guard told you of any suspicious he had - A. Yes, and I told the landlord of the public-house before I opened it. I had delivered a parcel at that house on the 27th of March, addressed to William Taverner, in his own name - I delivered it to him. When I found this parcel directed to the same place it created my suspicion.
WILLIAM SELL. I keep the Robin Hood, public-house, in Holborn. On the 6th of April Iles came to my house with a basket - I knew he was porter at the George and Blue Boar. He communicated his suspicions about the basket, and said he should like to satisfy his curiosity, for the guard had told him there was something wrong in it. He went into the back-room - I was busy at the time. In five or six minutes he called me. There were five or six parcels of bank notes, and one loose parcel, which contained 5 l. notes - the others were tied up. I said, "Put them into the basket, and go and tell your master," which he immediately did.
20 Aug. 1849:]
HENRY GOLDSWORTH AYLING. I am shopman to Mr. Prosser, a fishmonger of Great Turnstile. On 1st Aug., the prisoner came and bought a crab, it came to 4d., she gave me a half-crown—I said I thought it was bad—I took it to the Robin Hood, and found it was bad—she said she had only 1d., and offered to leave that and the crab and fetch the difference—I let her go—I marked it, and gave it to the policeman next day—this is it (produced).
[29 Oct. 1849:]
THOMAS SAUNDERS. I am a cabinet-maker. I have known William Barton nearly four months, and Hanbury eight or nine weeks—about the middle of Aug. I was engaged with them in making up these parcels—about six or seven weeks before 27th Sept., Barton and I met in the morning by appointment—he pointed out to me a man who carried parcels, who had left a van at the corner of Brownlow-street, and took the parcels to Gregory and Faulkner's—he left them there while he went elsewhere—Barton said, "Do you think you can make up anything like that, Tom?"—I said, "I don't know, I will try"—he said, "If you can, there will be at least 50l. or 100l. a piece for us"—I went with him to see that, fourteen or fifteen times, to see whether he would continue to leave them there or at any fresh place—he did not explain what it was for until the last time—I afterwards met him by appointment at Lee-street, Burton-crescent, and went to Hanbury's lodging in Hart. street, Covent-garden, to make up some parcels—he gave me 3d. to buy some cartridge-paper, I bought two damaged sheets, which came to 21l. 2d.—they had plenty of brown paper—(the day before that Barton gave me 1d. to purchase a piece of lawyer's narrow tape, I got it at Howitt's in Holborn, and gave it to Barton, we then separated, and made the appointment for the next day)—I had never been to Hanbury's before—he lodges in the first-floor front room—directly we saw Hanbury, "William Barton pulled out a book, like this produced, and said, "I think this will do, Harry, will it not?"—Hanbury said, "Yes, this is something like it"—he had given it to me to write on, and I wrote on it, "Great Western Railway-office, 1849, packet-book"—we then proceeded to make up parcels—Hanbury cut a piece of wood shorter, which was rather too long, and Barton pulled some list out of his pocket to make it look larger; this is it with the list on it (opening it)—they were folded over and made into parcels by each of us; these are the dummies I made—five or six parcels were fastened together by string, three with the red tape, and one was sealed with this seal, which Hanbury produced, and at Barton's suggestion I directed it to Evelyn and Louth, civil engineers, Guild-ford-street—these two dark seals were put on it, in my presence—Barton melted the wax—here are two seals on it which I know nothing about—this is the piece of wax which was used (produced)—it was joined together by Hanbury, in my presence—Barton produced a strap like this (produced), and gave it to Hanbury, who strapped eight parcels together, and one was kept loose—they were then put away, and Hanbury was to meet me and Barton at the Robin Hood in Holborn on the following morning, when Hanbury was to bring them to me to be changed for the parcels which would be left at Gregory and Faulkner's—after we had made up the parcels, we three went to a public-house in Long Acre, next to King-street, I do not know the sign, and had a pint of porter and half-a-quartern of gin—on the morning the tape was purchased, and on the next morning also, we called at the Hand-in-Hand public-house, at the corner of Hand-court, a very little way from Gregory and Faulkner's—on the first morning the man did not leave the parcels; Barton looked out, and said he had seen three or four policemen about, and he thought it would not do—the parcels were brought in a basket, which Hanbury brought, with a saw and a hammer peeping out at each end, to make it look like a tool-basket—I was taken to the workhouse that day, having no means of providing for my wife and family, and I wanted to carry on this thing as far as I could, and then go to the workhouse—I have seen Barton twice since; once in the workhouse, about a fortnight afterwards, and once in the street—I was afterwards taken in the workhouse by a policeman, on suspicion of stealing some things from my furnished lodgings—about a month afterwards I heard that this robbery was discovered, I saw it in the newspaper, I got over the workhouse-wall, went to the Great Western Rail-way, and communicated with Mr. Collard's clerk—Mr. Collard did not know where to find me before that.
[28 Nov. 1859:]
DANIEL SPALDIND CANNON. I am a tobacco manufacturer, of 98, Mint-street, Whitechapel—I trade under the name of Cannon and Co.—at the commencement of July the prisoner was in my service; I was to pay him 51. per cent, on all orders he obtained—it was his duty to get orders for me, to take the goods out, receive the money when the goods were delivered, and account for the money to me when he came home—on 4th August, he brought me a verbal order from Mr. Arnold, of the Robin Hood tavern, for 6 boxes of cigars—I directed my foreman to give him the cigars, and on the following day, or the day after, he gave me this receipt—(Read: "98, Royal Mint Street, August 4, 1859. To Mr. Arnold, Robin Hood Tavern, High Holborn. Please receive, per favour of Mr. Broughton, 6 boxes Havannahs, from O. E. Cannon and Co. Received by J. Arnold")—I made that out, except the signature—the amount would be about 3l. 15s.—the prisoner never accounted to me for any money—on the 6th, he said he had got an order from Mr. Bennett, of Parrock-street, Gravesend, for four boxes of cigars—I gave them to him with this note, which was then unsigned—(Read: "98, Royal Mint Street. To Mr. Bennett, Parrock Street, Gravesend. Please receive by favour of Mr. Broughton, 4 boxes of cigars. Received, W. Bennett")—the amount is 2l. 2s.—he paid me nothing—on 13th August, he said that Mr. Bokes, of the White Hart, Strand, wanted six pounds of cigars—I gave them to him with this delivery note unsigned—he brought it back next day or the day after; the amount was 3l. 8s.—Read: "13th August, 1859. Mr. Bokes, White Hart, Strand. Received per favour of Mr. Broughton, 6 lbs. of cigars in box. Received, M. Bokes").
Cross-examined by MR. COOPER. Q. When did the prisoner first come to you? A. He was introduced to me only a few days before this transaction by a party named Wilson, but I had met him occasionally when he was travelling for a house about a month previous—he came to me; I did not send for him—our agreement was not that he was to have 51. per cent., to be answerable for all bad debts, and that everything was to be placed to his credit—I recollect his taking a box of cigars to Mr. Howard—I do not know that cigars were sold to Mr. Swan, of Thanet-place; it was a box of foreign cigars; they were to be charged 21. 2s.—they were not to be submitted to the Hon. Mr. Howard for 1l. 15s.—the prisoner did not say to me, "Oh, these cigars were for Mr. Howard, but I sold them to Mr. Swan," nor did I say, "It is all right"—he paid me two guineas, and did not say who they were sold to—the invoice went with them—I have got my books here—I credited the cigars on 5th August to Mr. Howard—I have an entry on 25th July to Mr. Howard—the entry of six pounds of Havannahs, 2l. 16s. is to Mr. Arnold—this is a book which I supplied the prisoner with; I was in the habit of looking at it—I made these entries, and gave them to the prisoner in the book—he was answerable for all the goods put in it, unless it was a bad debt; I should have been answerable for that—if Mr. Arnold had not paid him, I should not have looked to the prisoner for payment—he was to be paid his 51. per cent, when the account was settled—I have advanced him nearly 8l.—he has not increased my business at all since he has been with me—before he introduced Mr. Bennett and Mr. Arnold, and Mr. Bokes, I knew their houses by name to be respectable houses—it was within a day or two of my charging him with obtaining goods by false pretences that he brought me back the receipts—I told him in the beginning of September, that I wished the accounts to be settled, as they were considerably over due; I accused him at the commencement of October, and he said that times were very bad, and he never was so unfortunate in getting money in before; that people were continually putting him off—towards the end of the month, I spoke to him again, and he told me some story about having come into some property, and I need not be at all alarmed, as he would give me a cheque for the whole amount—he was with me three months—he did not employ deputies to get commissions for me—I never heard that he employed a person named Lawrence; I never heard the name—I never heard him mention the name of Van Tovey—he had no conveyance supplied by me, nor did he, to my knowledge, go out in a carriage to get customers.
MR. METCALFE. Q. You say he introduced these people; was there any other transaction with Arnold or Bokes except this? A. No; they were new customers to me.
JAMES ARNOLD. I keep the Robin Hood public-house in High Holborn—I never gave any order to the prisoner for cigars or tobacco—this is not my signature—I never authorised any one to sign it for me—I never received any cigars.
[22 Nov. 1869:]
ELLEN KNIGHT. I am barmaid at the Robin Hood, Holborn—Mr. Arnold is the landlord—the prisoner came there with a woman, in the middle of October, about 10 a.m., for two glasses of porter, and gave me a half-crown—I gave him 2s. 4d. change, and put the half-crown in the till, where there was no other—the landlord spoke to me ten minutes afterwards—I looked at the half-crown, and it was counterfeit—no other half-crown had been put into the till.
Prisoner. Q. How came you to take it? A. I did not observe it much, as it was a very foggy morning—a policeman spoke to me about it, it might be a fortnight afterwards—the policeman did not describe you to me—no bad money has been offered me since you have been here.
JAMES ARNOLD. I am landlord of the Robin Hood—I went to my till on this morning, and found a bad half-crown, two sixpences, and a shilling—I gave the half-crown to the constable.
22 Sep. 1873:]
CHARLES HURLEY. I keep the Horse and Groom public-house, Whetstone Park—on 8th September, about 10 o'clock at night the prisoner came and asked for a glass of mild ale and a 2d. cigar, and gave a florin in payment—I gave him change—I put the florin in the till, being engaged in conversation—as he went out I looked at it again, and then noticed that it was counterfeit—I went out into Holborn to see if I could see him, and saw him go into the Robin Hood public-house—I called a constable and gave him into custody—the constable took hold of him and took him outside and asked what he had in his hand—he said "Nothing"—the constable told him to open his hand, he would not—the constable tried to open his hand—he resisted violently three or four times in going to the station—I saw his hand ultimately opened and a counterfeit florin taken from it—I had seen him in my house about 3 o'clock the same afternoon.
Cross-examined. I can't say what coin he paid with then—it was either a shilling or sixpence—I believe that was not counterfeit—I have only one till—I never put money I receive anywhere else, except 2s. pieces or half-crowns, which I place at the back after being put in the till—I put this florin in the till myself, and took it out again before placing it at the back, and I discovered that it was counterfeit—I had not taken any other florins shortly before—the prisoner was perfectly sober—he had not been drinking.
Re-examined. There was no other florin in, the till.
JAMES BADGER (Policeman E 473). I was spoken to by the last witness on the 8th September, in front of the Robin Hood—I went with him into the public-house, and he pointed out the prisoner there—I told him I should take him into custody for passing a bad 2s. piece—he said "Where is the 2s. piece, let me see it?"—I took him outside the door and asked what he had in his hand—I saw that his hand was clasped and he kept it by his side—he said "Nothing"—I said "Let me see"—he refused to do so—he struggled very violently and tried to bite and kick me—we both fell—he got his hand loose from me and made two or three gulping noises and said "It is gone"—but I still believed he had it in his hand—I got the assistance of three other constables—we forced his hand open and found in it this bad florin—I also got the other bad florin from Mr. Hurley—I searched the prisoner and found on him 9l. in gold, a 5l. note, eight shillings, and 15 1/2 d. in copper, a silver watch, a lady's umbrella, and a finger ring.
[19 Nov. 1877:]
ESTHER LEVY. I let the prisoner the house at 14, Upper East Smithfield—this is my handwriting (referring to the agreement)—the prisoner paid me 150l. on the 30th May, I think—he was quite a stranger to me—the bill was in the window that the premises were to let, and he seemed anxious to have it—I did not suggest we should go to a lawyer, but I took him to Mr. Hind, of Cannon Street, estate-agent, whom I knew, for the purpose of having the agreement prepared—the prisoner had two or three interviews with me—he first came in to make a purchase, and he said he had been after a place where he would have to pay 120l. for the goodwill and 100l. a year—I said my house was cheaper, and he was agreeable to take it—that was all that passed—the nest time he came was about the business, and I let him the house and shop for nine years at 45l. a year—he paid me by a note out of his own pocket, and had no one to represent him—I have a brother—the prisoner did not buy my furniture—I sold him the agreement for nine years—I took my furniture away—when he came he said he should not open the house—he had been trying to let it, and bad advertised it at 75l. and 150l. a year; so he could not have thought it a very bad bargain—he said he had a niece who would come to attend to it, but there was some death in the family and she could not come—a carman took the furniture away-my brother did not go there—he is living at the Robin Hood public-house—I know nothing about an appointment being made there with the prisoner—I don't think the prisoner made inquiries—he made no proposal to me of any kind—he would not be such a fool, I should think.
[10 Feb. 1879:]
MARIA MANDELL. I am barmaid at the Robin Hood public-house, High Holborn—on 15th January the prisoner came and asked for half a quartern of rum, and tendered a two-shilling piece—I saw it was bad at once—I showed it to Mr. Lindley, the landlord—he examined it in my presence, and gave it back to me—I had my eye on it all the time—I took it back to the prisoner and said, "Do you know if this is a bad one?"—he said "No"—he put it in his pocket and gave me a good shilling, and I gave him change, sixpence, four pennies, and a halfpenny—a constable was sent for, and the prisoner was given into custody—the florin produced is the same—I bit it. 
- Not included in Dobson, R. B., ed.; Taylor, J., ed. Rymes of Robyn Hood: an Introduction to the English Outlaw (London, 1976), pp. 293-311.
- Brewery History: List of Wenlock Brewery Co. Ltd pubs, see No. 104
- National Archives: Insured: George Price, the Old Robin Hood, High Holborn, victualler.
- Pub Wiki: Robin Hood, 281 High Holborn, St Giles in Fields.
- 25" O.S. map London (1915- Numbered sheets) V.10 (1936; rev. 1914)
- 25" O.S. map London (1915- Numbered sheets) V.10 (1936; rev. 1914) (georeferenced)
- 6" O.S. map Middlesex XVII (1880-82; surveyed 1868-73)
- 6" O.S. map Surrey III (1880; surveyed 1868-73)
- 6" O.S. map London VII.SW (1894-96; rev. 1893-95)
- 6" O.S. map Surrey III.NW (1898; rev. 1893-95)
- 6" O.S. map London Sheet K (1920; rev. 1913-14)
- 6" O.S. map London (1915- Numbered sheets) V.10 (1936; rev. 1914) (georeferenced)
- 6" O.S. map London Sheet K (c. 1946; rev. 1938).
- National Archives: Insured: George Price, the Old Robin Hood, High Holborn, victualler.
- Proceedings of the Old Bailey: 14 Sep. 1757.
- Proceedings of the Old Bailey: 26 Apr. 1786.
- Proceedings of the Old Bailey: 21 Apr. 1819.
- Proceedings of the Old Bailey: 20 Aug. 1849.
- Proceedings of the Old Bailey: 29 Oct. 1849.
- Proceedings of the Old Bailey: 28 Nov. 1859.
- Proceedings of the Old Bailey: 22 Nov. 1869.
- Proceedings of the Old Bailey: 22 Sep. 1873.
- Proceedings of the Old Bailey: 19 Nov. 1877.
- Proceedings of the Old Bailey: 10 Feb. 1879.
- Also see there High Holborn 1869 Street directory - south side; The London 1842 Robsons Public House & Publican Directory - R2; London 1869 Public House & Publican Directory - R2; The London 1884 Public House & Publican Directory - R2; The London 1891 Public House & Publican Directory; The London 1899 Public House & Publican Directory - R3; London publicans in 1910 - Post Office directory R3; St Giles & Bloomsbury 1911 pub history census summary; London and Suburbs pubs in 1921 - Hughes directory listing - Ro; The London Public Houses in the 1938 Post Office Directory - R.