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Robin Hood Yard (Holborn)

Locality
Coordinates 51.518663, -0.108438
Adm. div. Middlesex, now Greater London
Vicinity On E side of Leather Lane, immediately N of Holborn
Type Thoroughfare
Interest Robin Hood name
Status Defunct
First Record 1746
A.k.a. Robinhood Yard; Robinhood-yard; Robin Woods Yard
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Site of Robin Hood Yard, Holborn
Around here was the entrance to Robin Hood Yard / Google Earth Street View.
Robin Hood Yard, on Rocque's 1746 Plan of the Cities of London and Westminster / Locating London's Past.

By Henrik Thiil Nielsen, 2018-06-16. Revised by Henrik Thiil Nielsen, 2018-07-16.

Robin Hood Yard was a narrow oblong yard or cul-de-sac lane reached from a side entrance on the east side of Leather Lane. Lockie in his Topography of London (editions of 1810 and 1813) lists it as "Robinhood-Yard, Leather-Lane, Holborn,—8 doors on the R. from 128, Holborn-hill".[1] The earliest certain record of the place-name known to IRHB is John Rocque's 1746 Plan of London and Westminster.[2] However, it is not impossible that the "Robin hood's yard in shoe lane" listed in a register entitled A New Review of London (1728) is really this yard in Leather Lane. Robin Hood Court in Shoe Lane would seem more likely to be meant, but this is already included in the list under the usual form of its name.[3] Robin Hood Yard in Leather Lane is also included in the list of London street and place-names in the Compleat Compting-House Companion (1763),[4] and figures occasionally in reports of cases at the Old Bailey (see Records below). It no doubt owed its name to the circumstance that it was adjacent to one of Holborn's at least three inns named the Robin Hood.

Included on the 1968 edition of Bartholomew's Reference Atlas of Greater London,[5] the yard has since disappeared from the maps. There is still a (now quite irregularly shaped) yard in the area between the building that houses the Sir Christopher Hatton restaurant on the eastern side of Leather Lane and the London Diamond Bourse and Barclay's Bank on the west side of Hatton Garden, but this can hardly be open to the public. I doubt very much if the man in the street is allowed to get so close to the diamonds.

Records

1785 - Proceedings of the Old Bailey (3)

[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.[6]

1786 - Proceedings of the Old Bailey (1)

[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.[7]

1796 - Proceedings of the Old Bailey

[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.[8]

1811 - Proceedings of the Old Bailey

[10 Jul. 1811:]
WILLIAM HEWITT. I am a carman. I only know that I lost the lead from off my stable in Robin Hood-yard, Leather-lane on the 12th of June.[9]

1870 - Proceedings of the Old Bailey (2)

[19 Sep. 1870:]
THOMAS BERRY. I am a detective officer of the P division—I went to the Castle public-house on the 31st August—I saw deceased on the table, dead—I went in search of the prisoner, and found him next morning about 9.30 in a stable in Robin Hood Yard, washing himself—I said "John, I am going to take you into custody for causing his death"—he said "Very well, I am quite willing to go with you, I done no more than any other man would have done; last night I went home a little earlier than usual, found my wife out, and went in search of her; I saw her with the old gentleman, they were laughing and talking, I crossed over the road and allowed them to go past, and when I came back I saw them again, all at once I missed him, and went into the Castle to have a half-pint of beer, and saw them at the bar having a half-quartern of gin; I went round into their compart-ment, I could not stand it any longer; I went towards my wife and hit her in the face. The old gentleman got up and said 'Don't hit the woman,' that was the first thing he said, I then hit him two or three times, he dropped down on to the side of his head, fell on to the table, and his nose bled, but I did not think I had killed him; I then got hold of my wife and dragged her out"—on the road to the station he said "I used to five with that old gentleman in Islington, I removed from there; one day I was at home with a stiff neck, a little girl came to the door to see my missis, I put my head out of the window and saw the old gentleman beckoning her round the corner with his finger, I then went out and caught the two talking together; I cautioned him then that if I ever caught him along with her again it would be the wont for him.

Cross-examined. Q. He said he had only given the gentleman a thrashing? A. Yes.

JAMES DUNN (Police Inspector P). I read the charge to prisoner at the station—he said "I did not mean to kill him, he has been cautioned often enough before. [10]

Gazetteers

Maps

Also see

Notes

  1. Lockie, John, compil. Lockie's Topography of London, Giving a Concise Local Description of and Accurate Direction to Every Square, Street, Lane, Court, Dock, Wharf, Inn, Public Office, &c. in the Metropolis and its Environs (London, 1810), s.n. Robinhood-Yard; Lockie, John, compil. Lockie's Topography of London, Giving a Concise Local Description of, and Accurate Direction to, Every Square, Street, Lane, Court, Dock, Wharf, Inn, Public Office, &c. in the Metropolis and its Environs. Second Edition (London, 1813), s.n. Robinhood-Yard.
  2. Rocque, John, cartog.; Pine, John, engr. A Plan of the Cities of London and Westminster, and Borough of Southwark (London, 1746). Shown on this page.
  3. Anonymous. A New Review of London: being an Exact Survey, lately taken, of every Street, Lane, Court, Alley, Square, Close, Green, Wharf, Row, Garden, Field, and aLl Places, by what Name soever call'd, within the Cities, Liberties, or Suburbs of London, Westminster, and the Borough of Southwark. 3rd ed. (London, 1728), p. 30 s.nn. 'Robin hood's court' and 'Robin hood's yard'. Italics as in source. IRHB's brackets
  4. Anonymous. The Compleat Compting-House Companion: or, Young Merchant, or Tradesman's Sure Guide (London, 1763), p. 417.
  5. John Bartholomew & Son Ltd. Bartholomew's Reference Atlas of Greater London 13th ed. (Edinburgh, 1968), 8B.
  6. Proceedings of the Old Bailey: 14 Dec. 1785.
  7. Proceedings of the Old Bailey: 22 Feb. 1786.
  8. Proceedings of the Old Bailey: 22 Jul. 1796.
  9. Proceedings of the Old Bailey: 10 Jul. 1811.
  10. Proceedings of the Old Bailey: 19 Sep. 1870.

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