Robin Hood (Leather Lane, Holborn)
|Adm. div.||Middlesex, now Greater London|
|Vicinity||c. 180 m E. of Grays Inn Road|
|Interest||Robin Hood name|
|A.k.a.||Robin Hood; Robin Hood and Little John; Robinhood; Robin Hood and Black Boy; Robinhood and Black Boy|
By Henrik Thiil Nielsen, 2018-01-21. Revised by Henrik Thiil Nielsen, 2019-05-31.
The Robin Hood or Robin Hood and Little John in Leather Lane existed from at least 1767 to 1910. The street number seems to have varied. First the pub was at No. 8, then 9 and by 1895 No. 10 Leather Lane. In 1786, the pub was located on the east side of the lane, for asked about its location in relation to Robin Hood Yard, which was on that side of the lane, a party to a case at the Old Bailey said that it "joins the yard". Information on publicans gleaned from trade directories etc. from the period 1767–1910 can be found at UK Pub History (see Sources section below).There were three Robin Hood pubs in Holborn: Robin Hood (High Holborn), Robin Hood (Holborn), Robin Hood (Leather Lane, Holborn). When one comes across references to one or other of them in records, for instance Old Bailey case reports such as those listed below, it can be difficult to determine which is meant, but the one we are concerned with on this page is often identified as being in Leather Lane.
[19 Sep. 1767:]
[...] Thomas Bird was indicted for stealing a sattin cardinal, value 20 s. the property of Mary Kirby, widow, Aug. 6.
Mary Kirby. I live at the Robinhood, Leather-lane; I lost a sattin cardinal out of the parlour; I did not miss it till the 7th of August; the prisoner was in the house on the 6th in the morning, but I did not see him; he was taken up the same day three doors from us, upon suspicion of robbing a room at Dobney's; I missing my cardinal, and knowing the prisoner had been before Justice Girdler, and a cardinal had been brought there, and no body owned it, I went to the pawnbroker, named Careless, in Fox-court; there I found my cardinal in pawn.
William Cullen. I am servant to Mr. Careless in Fox-court; the prisoner pledged a cardinal with me on the 6th of August, in his own name for 7 s. about seven in the morning; (produced and deposed to by prosecutrix.)
John Woolse. I keep the Robinhood in Leather-lane; the prisoner came to my house between six and seven in the morning of the 6th of August, along with two more; they called for some bread and cheese and beer; I heard the prisoner own, before the Justice, the cardinal was taken before the second pot was drawn, but did not say he took it.
I had been out, and coming back, I met two men, one had a bundle; they wanted to get some beer; I took them in at Mr. Woolfe's; we had some beer: I went home, which is but two doors off; when I came to them again, the beer was almost cut; one of them beckoned me to the door, and asked me if any pawnbroker was up; I told him yes; I took him into Fox-court, Gray's inn-lane; there he asked me to go and pledge either a cardinal or a gown; I took the cardinal, and pledged it for 7 s. and gave him the money; he went back and paid the reckoning, which came to 1 s. and a halfpenny.
Woolfe. The prisoner went out three times, but they did not all depart the house till the reckoning was paid; one of the others went out once.
Martha Pain. He lodged at the Gridiron, Gray's inn-lane, four years and a half, where I am servant; he always behaved himself very well there.
[21 Feb. 1776:]
JOHN FEAST sworn.
I lost two pint pots on the 21st of January. I saw them taken from the prisoner at the Robin Hood and Black Boy, in Leather-lane.
WILLIAM BAILEY sworn.
I lodge up two pair of stairs in Leather-lane. I had been out last Sunday morning was a month; when I returned, I met the prisoner coming down stairs; when I got up stairs I missed the pots, which I had put on the outside of the door before I went out: I asked my wife if the people had been for the pots? she said, No: I immediately suspected the prisoner; I followed him, and brought him to the Robin Hood; there I found a quart pot, and two pint pots in a bag; and there were two pints in his pockets, and two under his coat.
[14 Dec. 1785:]
WILLIIAM HANCOCK sworn. What age are you? - About eighteen, I live in Mint-street, No. 14, with Mr. Millington; this woman brought me up when I was a child; my master is the son-in-law of this woman, he maried her daughter.
Who brought you here to-day? - Mr. Russel.
Who is Mr. Russel? - A coachman in Robinhood yard.
Who applied to you to come here? - He, himself.
What connection has he with the prosecutrix or the prisoner? - He came to me, and told me I was to come here and speak the truth.
Then take care you do? - I know nothing at all about it, she brought down a summons to me at night, on Tuesday night, which Lord Mayor's day was on Wednesday, and told me I must come to her house to breakfast on Wednesday.
What summons did she bring you? - A summons from Justice Blackborough.
Did you go? - Yes, I went, then we had a breakfast; then she sent me out for a quartern of gin, I drank a part of it with her, then she got ready to go away; and going down Saffron-hill we had part of another quartern; and when we had done there, we went to Turnmill-street, to Mr. Chambers, and there we had another quartern; and with that she told me I was to take this false oath, to say that I saw this young man take these clothes, in a sheet under his arm.
Upon your oath, did she tell you to say so? - Yes, your Worship, she did.
What else did she tell you to swear? - To swear that I saw him take them out of a white sheet, and take them up to the stable that was in the corner; she said to take that oath before the Justice, and that would commit him to gaol.
Did she bid you say nothing else? - No, she told me to stand to that.
Was that all? - Yes.
Recollect yourself again as well as you can, whether she told you any thing else? - No, she told me nothing else that I can remember, but I was very much in liquor when I came away from the Justice's; that I could hardly tell what I said, or did.
Who was present when this conversation passed? - Nobody, but herself, and me.
Where was Mr. Chambers? - He was not come into the room at that time.
How came she to pick you out for this particular business? - Because she thought I was one that she reared up, and she thought I would do, or swear any thing in the world for her; and she took it upon that circumstance, she thought I would swear any thing for her.
Had you been at her place the day that she lost her things, at all? - No, I had not.
Upon your oath you had not? - Upon my oath I had not.
You are sure of that? - I am certain sure of that.
Did you never tell her that you had, before this time? - No, Sir, never.
You never told her that you had been there, or had seen any thing about it? - No.
Upon your oath, young man? - Upon my oath.
Court. Is there any body here from Mr. Blackborough's?
(Mr. Blackborough's clerk was sent for.)
Hancock. I really ask the Court's pardon with all my heart for what I have done, and will never do the like again; but it was very wrong in her to take an apprentice, and one that hardly knows a letter in a book.
Mr. Silvester. If there is any doubt about the case, I will call two witnesses.
Court to Hancock. Did your master keep you at home? - He could not spare me.
Court. Is any body here from Mr. Blackborough's, this is a very black business on the one side or on the other, and I am determined to get to the bottom of it.
WILLIAM BRACHNEY sworn.
I belong to Mr. Blackborough's office, I cannot positively say whether I was at the office at the time of the examination; but I know something of the business: this lad came with the prosecutrix, I do not recollect any body else; he had got a good story when he did come, I believe it was the morning of Lord Mayor's day, I am not positive; I believe they were together before they went into the Justice's, and had been drinking at the public-house; the first I knew about the business, Mr. Isaacs and I had a warrant to apprehend the prisoner; we went to look for him the first time, and could not find him; then the man came, Isaacs took him, I was not by; he came before Mr. Blackborough, and they took his master's word to bring him the next day; then they got a summons for this lad, it was either the day that the prisoner came to Mr. Blackborough's, or the day before; when he came before Mr. Blackborough, he seemed to tell a very good story; but to the best of my opinion, I think, he was learned that story first; because, I thought the woman was a very bad woman; I heard no conversation between the woman and the boy, before they went into the Justice's, I was in the office when they came in; I cannot pretend to say particularly, whether any body particular stood by the boy; when the woman went in, the boy seemed to be sober, but she was rather in liquor, for she was full of jaw.
Then the boy was not so drunk, as not to know what he said, or did? - I do not believe he was so drunk.
Who took the examination? - His clerk.
What is his name? - Edward Lavender; I believe the boy went in after this examination, to have his examination taken, but I cannot be positive.
Mr. Silvester. Was Chambers there? - Yes, he was concerned in the business, he was concerned for this, he came with them, and was with them I believe before they came in.
Court. You do not think the boy was drunk? - I do not think he was, he did not seem drunk, I never saw him till he was brought in by Mr. Chambers and the woman, I never saw the woman before I went with her to serve a warrant on the prisoner, my reason for saying he was instructed is, I thought there was some people with them that might give them a little education, you know as well as I do, I do not like to mention people's names, but I thought so I assure you.
You thought this woman had got into bad hands in plain English? - I thought she had got into hands that would give her a good lesson; but this I am sure, the place where Hancock said he saw the man, it is impossible he should see the lock broke off, for it is in a hay loft, and you are obliged to look down, he said he had been in sleep in this hay loft or straw loft, but they are obliged to stand and look as if they were looking underneath this desk, it is a place so dark, in my opinion, that it is impossible to see the door without leaning over.
Could he, in the hay loft, see the door without leaning over? - He could not, I am sure of that, because I was in the hay loft, it is the same as standing at this bench and leaning over to look under it; at the time he was examined I think, to the best of my remembrance, it was said, that it was a thing impossible that a man could see the lock brok open with a knife or any thing of that kind.
Court. Step for Lavender: and in the mean time examine the prisoner's witnesses apart.
MARY WOLFE sworn.
I keep a public-house in Leather-lane, the Robinhood and Black-boy, I have known the prisoner these three years, he lives in the yard adjoining to the house, that is, he works in the yard, Mr. Beach keeps coaches in the yard; on Wednesday, the 2d of November, I very well remember the prisoner coming to my house about ten minutes before two, he was not out till five, the old-clothes woman came in at nine in the evening, and said she had been robbed, she said nothing to him about it, he was in the house at the time.
[22 Feb. 1786:]
WILLIAM TILL sworn.
Do you remember being charged with robbing the prisoner? - Yes.
What day did she charge you with robbing her? - On Saturday the 5th of November.
I mean, on what day did she say you robbed her, when she gave her evidence in this Court? - I do not know the day of the month.
Do you remember the day when this woman first came, and said in your hearing that she had been robbed? - She came in about nine o'clock in the evening; she said she had been robbed between the hours of two and four.
Are you sure she fixed that time? - Yes, I am.
Do you know where you were that day, between the hours of two and four, will you tell us upon your oath? - I was in at Mrs. Wolf's, when she came in to complain of this robbery; I had been there from seven till nine, I did not go out till eleven, when I went home to bed.
Then from that were you in Robinhood-yard at any time between nine and eleven that evening? - No, I went home to-bed at eleven. I did not go out of Wolf's house from seven till eleven that evening; I live in Robinhood-yard with Mr. Russel, coach-master.
Do you live over the stables belonging to Robert Beach? - No.
Then in fact, any time between seven and eleven, were you in Robinhood-yard with any bundle of woman's clothes? - No, Sir, I never was out of Mr. Wolf's house.
I need not ask you, if the prisoner called to you between that time in the yard? - No, Sir, she never saw me till she came to Mr. Wolf's.
Court. Did the prisoner know you before? - Yes; she was a lodger of my master's.
Then, she knew your person before? - Yes.
Was she a lodger at this time that she charged you with this offence? - Yes.
Previous to this offence, had you had any quarrel with her? - No, Sir.
Never have had a word with her? - Not a word.
Mr. Keys, Prisoner's Counsel. How long have you been employed in that yard? - Upwards of five years.
Has Dorothy Handland lodged in that yard all the time? - No, Sir, she has not been a lodger to my master so long as that; she left my master's apartment about a year ago, and then she came back again.
How long have you been acquainted with her? - Ever since I have been in the yard, and longer.
That is five years and a half? - Yes.
What business is she? - An old clothes woman.
When she goes out about her business, her room is left locked up? - Certainly; there have been several people after her, and she has told me to take their names, and to deliver messages, and she should be at home at such a time; but I never shewed any goods for her in my life; when I have been in the yard doing my horses, she has come down in the yard, and said she should be at home soon.
You knew her little stock was there? - I cannot tell.
Is this alehouse, the Robinhood, close to the yard? - It joins the yard.
What distance is it between the Robinhood and that stable-door, where she swore she saw you pass? - I suppose, a hundred yards.
When you was in this public house, what time did you go there? - At seven in the evening.
What time did you go there at dinner-time? - Before two.
What time did you leave the house? - About five, my master came home.
What is your master's name? - Beach.
Then you went into the yard? - Yes; I was there about half after six.
You swear, these four hours, from seven till eleven, you was not out of the public house? - I was not.
What part of the house did you sit in? - I went to the chimney, to the box next to the jack-weight, where I always lay down.
How long did you stay there? - Why, I suppose till about eight in that box.
Was you alone in that box? - No, Sir.
Who was with you? - Three or four people; there were two Mr. Goffs, and two Quakers, one of their names is Meredith.
What is the other's name? - Charles Tippy, and one of Mr. Giles's men, his name is Thomas; and there was one Mr. Trott, a watchmaker.
How was you employed at this time from seven till eight? - In drinking two pints of beer; I had one pint of beer alone.
Who did you drink with afterwards? - with Mr. Trott and the other.
How much had you with them? - One pint of beer.
How much had you in all? - I was two pints, and they was a pint a piece.
Had you any liquor besides beer? - No.
And all that time you sat in that box? - At eight o'clock, I went next to the fire, and said there till eleven; Trott and I went away together; two of them that lodge in the house went to-bed at ten, Tipping and Trott were there the whole time.
Mr. Knowlys. Have you any doubt that you was there from seven till a considerable time past ten? - I have no doubt of it.
Have you many more men in the yard? - Yes.
Is there any man like you in the same yard? - There is one about my bulk, he is a gentleman's coachman.
Does he wear his hair round as you do, without powder? - Yes.
Mr. Keys. Pray, does this public house admit disorderly people, all sorts of company? - I never saw any in my life.
Court. Were there any lamps in the yard? - There was not, nor has been these two years.
Is there any lamp near the loft-door? - No, nor any under the gate-way.
Do you recollect, on that evening, whether there was any moon? - I brought the watchman's lanthorn to light my candle; there was no moon, it was very dark, I am positive of it.
Do you think there was light enough that evening at half after eight, to discover the person of any body? - No, Sir.
Do you think you could have discovered any body you had known? - No, Sir.
MARY WOLF sworn.
What house do you keep? - The Robinhood and Black Boy in Leather-lane.
[22 Jul. 1796:]
SARAH WILLIAMSON sworn. I live in Robinhood-yard, Leather-lane, I keep the Robinhood; I have known Brown all his life-time, he is a very honest sober youth, as far as I know; he served his time to a printer.
[14 Jan 1807:]
Q. By what name and description was the prisoner introduced to you. - A. By the name of captain Smith of the army.
Q. After he was introduced to you, did you and him become intimate. - A. Yes, I lodged at the Robin Hood, Leather lane, Holborn, and there the prisoner was brought to me by Mr. Benjamin Davis. I slept in one room in the house and he in another.
[28 Jan. 1820:]
JOHN GREENAWAY. I keep the Robin Hood, public-house, in Leather-lane - the prisoner lodged nearly opposite me for two months before he was taken. On Tuesday morning, the 4th of January, I had my horse and chaise at the door, and was going to Redbourn fair, which was held on Wednesday - he came over to me and asked where I was going, and I told him. This was about a quarter past ten o'clock.
[2 Apr. 1838:]
DAVID MAGSON. I live at No. 60, Leather-lane, and am an engineer. I employed the prisoner as a carpenter, to remove my goods from fleet-street to Leather-lane on the 8th of March—he was going out—in consequence of some suspicion, I asked him to go and drink with me, and when he went from the public-house, I thought he looked very bulky and I followed him—I gave him into custody—the property was found in the privy—he gave me the hammer head in the street—I saw the brass in the shop that day—it was safe about breakfast time—it was found about one o'clock at the Robin Hood, in Leather-lane—the next door to where I have a factory—there was no occasion for him to take it—these things are mine—(looking at them.)
[9 Jan. 1888:]
EDWARD JOHNSON. I am a licensed victualler, and keep the Robin Hood public-house in Leather Lane, which is about a couple of hundred yards from the Black Bull—the prisoner, whom I have known for some time, came to my house, about 8 o'clock on Boxing night, in company with another man that I did not know and have not seen since—he came to see me for one thing, and he said "Lend me 5s.; I will leave you my watch as security"—I took it at first, but did not intend to keep it—we then went out with him down the Lane, talking to him about his trip; he had been away in the country—I said "Will, you have a glass of wine with me? and I will leave you"—we went into the private bar of the Black Bull—I know Ethel Moore—we had a small glass of port each—we were there about a couple of minutes—we came out and said "Good night"—I said "Here is your watch; the 5s. will be all right when you get it; you can give me that back," and I gave him back his watch—he said "The missis has my money; come and have a drink with me"—I said "I don't care about any more"—he said "Come along, it is Christmas time, and I am going away and may not see you again for some time"—we went into the public bar, where the prisoner asked for three glasses of port—while I was there I noticed a man sitting asleep on the form; his hat was on the floor, and I saw the other man touch it with his foot—I drank my wine and left, leaving the prisoner at this end of the bar away from the people, and then went towards Leather Lane—I stopped and spoke to the officer on the beat, and the prisoner passed me with the other man going home—they went into the public bar of my house—the two men then came out and went down Brook Street, when they passed me they were laughing.
Cross-examined. The prisoner had had quite enough to drink—two or three minutes elapsed between the time I left the Black Bull and their passing me—the prisoner might have been hurrying a little, but not out of the ordinary—he is a fighting man, and had been on a tour with J. L. Sullivan—he did very well on that trip—I have known him as a quiet man—it is a small bar, about 12 feet by 12—other persons were clustering around—I did not notice whether the prisoner and the other man were carrying anything when they passed me.
GEORGE BAKER. I am eight years old, and go to Prince's Street Board School—I live with my mother at 89, Great Saffron Hill—on Boxing night I was out with my brother, close to the Robin Hood public-house—I saw the prisoner and another man come up to the house—the prisoner threw a note and bag away—I picked them up, and showed them to my brother Harry—it was about 8. 45 p.m.—I saw the prisoner afterwards at Guildhall—this is the bag.
- 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.
- Edward Stanford's Library Map of London (1862-71), Bloomsbury section
- 25" O.S. map London XXVI (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 Surrey III.NW (1898; rev. 1893-95) (georeferenced)
- 6" O.S. map London sheet K (1920; rev. 1913-14)
- 6" O.S. map London sheet K (c. 1946; rev. 1938).
- Grays Inn Road place-name cluster
- Holborn place-name cluster
- Leather Lane (Holborn) place-name cluster
- Places named after Little John
- Robinhood place-names
- Public houses named after Robin Hood.
- UK Pub History: Robin Hood, 9 Leather Lane, Holborn.
- Proceedings of the Old Bailey: Thomas Bird, Theft > grand larceny, 9th September 1767.
- Proceedings of the Old Bailey: 21 Feb. 1776.
- Proceedings of the Old Bailey: 14 Dec. 1785.
- Proceedings of the Old Bailey: 22 Feb. 1786.
- Proceedings of the Old Bailey: 22 Jul. 1796.
- Proceedings of the Old Bailey: 14 Jan 1807.
- Proceedings of the Old Bailey: 28 Jan. 1820.
- Proceedings of the Old Bailey: 2 Apr. 1838.
- Proceedings of the Old Bailey: 9 Jan. 1888.
- For 1767 also see 1767 Record below. Also see the following pages at UK Pub History: The London 1839 Public House & Publican Directory - as listed in London 1839 Pigots Directory - R3; London 1841 Public House & Publican Directory - R3; The London 1842 Robsons Public House & Publican Directory - R2; London 1856 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.