[The crime wave documented in the following news reports prompted a Proposal to Prevent Street Robberies.]
3 August 1728 On 3 August 1728 two ladies going in a chariot from Beckingham to Bromley, were robbed by a single highwayman. On Saturday evening the Rev. Mr Uvedale’s Lady, and another Gentlewoman, coming over the Chace to Enfield in a coach, were robb’d by 3 highwaymen. (The Weekly Journal; or, British Gazetteer)
8 August 1728 Mrs. Neeves, the wife of Thomas Neeves, the late street-robber, was last Wednesday committed, with three more women, to Wood-street Compter, for stealing several parcels of silk from mercers of this City. Mrs. Neeves has made herself an evidence; but what is remarkable, the oldest is not 16 years of age. (The Weekly Journal; or, British Gazetteer)
10 August 1728 On Friday last week, in the evening two footpads robb’d several persons near Pancras-Lane; among them three that were coming in a coach from Highgate, from whom they got about 5 or 6l. One was a gentleman of Tunbridge, who had the good fortune to drop a purse of gold upon the seat in the coach, and so sav’d it; but he suffer’d the loss of all his silver, and a peruke-maker in Fleet-street lost about 12s. and a mother of pearl snuff-box set in silver.
On Sunday last about six o’ clock in the evening, Mr Lewis Hays of Wanstead, with his lady, were robbed in their chariot on Epping Forest, at the upper end of Snare’s Brook, near Woodford Road, by one highwaymann (another being near under a bush) who took from them a gold watch, 50s. in money, and a gold ring.
The same night Felix Hill, servant to Mr Wright near Bucklersbury, coming from Islington over the Fields, about half an hour past 9, was stopt on the causeway betwixt the Cowhouse and Spring Garden, by two foot pads, who bid him deliver, one of them presenting a large knife; but hearing somebody coming, they had only time to take what money he had in one pocket, which was about 4s. and made across the Fields towards Hoxton.
On Sunday last Mr Brown, a coach-maker in Castle-street near St. Martin’s-lane, was pursued by a highwayman in Windsor Forest, who came within shot of him, and fired, but miss’d him, and Mr. Brown being well mounted, out-rode him, and so came off without any damage.
We are informed that on Tuesday a robbery was committed, or, to speak modestly of it, a small collection was made upon two coaches full of Ladies going towards North-Haw in Hertfordshire, to take the air: The gentlemen collectors took what the Ladies bestowed, very respectfully, and offered no other rudeness, than such as is essential to the profession.
Wednesday Mr Humphries, a gentleman who lives at Reading, being just arrived in town from that place, and passing thro’ Lincoln’s-Inn fields, a villain run against him, and from that took occasion to pick a quarrel with him, so that they had some blows; a second interferred, on pretence of parting them, till they pick’d the gentleman’s pocket of 2 guineas, 2 half crowns, and a silver watch, and made off, before the gentleman miss’d them.
One night this week Mr Clarke, a Master Taylor in Fountain Court in the Strand, was set upon by three street robbers in Little Drury-Lane, who took from his his watch, hat and peruke; one of them stopping his mouth all the time, to prevent his calling the Watch. (The Weekly Journal; or, British Gazetteer)
17 August 1728 Wednesday morning about two o’clock Mr Chambers a painter, was set upon near the new church in the Strand by two street robers, who clapp’d a pistol each side his head, and then bade him deliver his money without resistance or they wou’d shoot him, which he accordingly gave them, being about 15s. and afterwards made off; but had the good fortune to save his watch. (The Weekly Journal; or, British Gazetteer)
24 August 1728 On Saturday last ... two gentlewomen coming from Highgate in a hackney coach were robbed of two and thirty guineas, between the Pindar of Wakefield and the end of Gay’s-Inn-Lane.
Last Sunday evening at North-End near Hampstead, a person was set upon by some footpads, who stripp’d and robb’d him of his cloaths and five shillings.
Street-robbers begin to be as busy as ever. Three of the gang on Saturday last, about 12 o’ the clock at night, came up to a gentleman in Fleet-street, and presented a pistol to his breast to extort his money: At which the Gentleman was so surprized, that he suffer’d the villains to rifle his pockets of 15 guineas.
And Sunday morning about one o-clock, a Gentleman passing in a coach thro’ Fleetstreet, was set upon, about the end of Water-lane, by 4 or 5 rogues, and he not complying immediately to their demands, they had the impudence to fire a pistol at him, and then rifled his pockets taking his watch and what money he had, which in the whole was to the value of about 50l. and then made off, down Water-lane.
Last Monday night about nine o-clock a man returning from Islington to town, was met in the Fields near the Old Spaw by two foot pads, who knock’d him down and took his hat and wig, two guineas, and some silver, and then made off.
The close of last week, Mr. Brookes, school-master in Wardour-street, Soho, going home, was attacked by four street-robbers, who took from him two guineas and a half, and some silver.
On Monday night, two Gentlemen and two Gentlewoman were robbed in a hackney coach going through Queen-street, Holborn, of their money, &c. by four street-robbers.
The same night, a gentleman coming into the City in a hackney coach, the coach was stopt in Hosier-Lane toward Smithfield, and immediately the door was opened and a street-robber forcing his way in; at which the Gentleman forced his way out; and making what haste he could away, cry’d Thieves. Whereupon they fired a pistol at him; but did not hurt him, and so he escaped.
On Wednesday last, about 7 o-clock in the evening, a Gentleman and Lady were stopp’d in their coach, coming from Harrow on the Hill, by one highwayman, who robb’d them of their watches, and what money they had about them, and made off.
The same night, about 9 o’clock, a Gentleman was stopt in a hackney coach, between Hyde-Park Corner and Knights-Bridge, by two foot-pads, who robb’d him of his watch and five guineas. (The Weekly Journal; or, British Gazetteer)
31 August 1728 On Friday 7-night last the stage-coach from Hitchin in Hertfordshire, with one man and five women in it, coming for London, was robb’d by Brown’s-Well near Highgate, by one highwayman, of about 30s. The fellow bid them deliver immediately, but could not stay to search them, suspecting he was pursued, having, it seems, committed another robbery a little before; soon after the pursuers came up, and having spoke with the passengers, rode after him, but the highwayman finding hismelf hard put to it, dismounted, and fled into the woods; however his horse was seized, by which means the rider may come to be discovered.
On Saturday evening, between seven and eight o’clock, three foot-pads stopt a Gentleman on horseback, a little on this side the Turnpike, on Tottenham Road, and robb’d him of three guineas; and a little after they stopt a chariot, in which was Mr. Craiesteyn, and another Gentleman, from whom they took about four pounds, after having obliged them to come out of the chariot, and strictly searching them, unbuttoning their breeches, &c. at which time they were disturbed by some Gentlemen coming by, but they found means to make their escape over the brick-fields, towards Sir George Whitmore’s.
About the same time, a highwayman pursued a Gentleman near Woodford in Essex, but he got off: whereupon, willing to play at small game rather than stand out, he robb’d a cart in which were a man and his wife, the man had a guinea about him, which he put in his shoe, but the rogue search’d him so narrowly that he found it out.
Saturday last ... In the evning ... a man was robb’d of 30s. near Stationer’s Hall; the rogues first knock’d him down, and then took away his money, leaving him speechless.
Last Sunday night, about 10 a-clock, a Gentleman was set upon by four street-robbers at the corner of Bowling-Alley, White-Cross-Street. In the scuffle they broke his head in two places, and bruised him much; but timely assistance coming up, prevented the villains of their design. (The Weekly Journal; or, British Gazetteer)
7 September 1728 On Saturday night about ten o’ clock Dr Mitchel, a Professor of the Mathematicks, passing to his lodging in Duke-street, Lincolns-Inn-Fields, was set upon by three robbers in Portugal-Row, one of whom clapping a pistol to his head demanded his money, and because he refused to comply knock’d him down with the butt end thereof, and wounded him in so cruel and barbarous a manner that his life is thought to be in danger: The three viallains had leathern aprons on.
On Saturday night last a gentleman was stopt in Hanover-Square, by two foot pads, who robbed him of what money he had about him, and made off.
On Tuesday last the man who keeps the Black Horse Yard in New Bond-street, going thro’ the wood in the road between Hampserad and Highgate, in a chaise, was attacked by two foot pads, who robbed him of his watch, a guinea, and a crown, and made off.
Last Thursday night a labouring man coming home from St Giles’s, was set upon near Turn-Style by two foot-pads, one of whom held a pistol to his cheek, threatning to shoot him if he did not deliver his money; the man having but 15d. and being willing to preserve it struck one of the rogues over the head with an oaken stick, but there being two to one they knock’d him down with their pistols and took his money.
Wednesday at noon a man going through Moregate Postern was knock’d down and much wounded in the face by a street robber; he had a bundle taken from him, but the rogue was secured before he could make off.
The same night between 8 and 9 o’clock a chaise with two gentlemen in it was stopp’d opposite toHolland House, on the road between Hanmemrsmith and Kensington. Mr. Miller a taylor, and Mr.Martin a peruke-maker, both of Suffolk Street, Charing-Cross, riding by at the same time, thought that something belonging to the chaise was out of order, and went up to give their assistance, when the rogues having taken about 30s. from the gentlemen in the chaise then demanded Mr. Martin and Mr. Miller also to deliver; from the former they took a silver watch and 12s. in money, and from the latter about the same sum, and then made their escape. (The Weekly Journal; or, British Gazetteer)
14 September 1728 Friday night ... in the evening Capt. Lyell, Commander of the Ship Windham, in the East-India Company’s Service, going up Highgate-Hill in a coach, was robb’d of about 7s. by a single highwayman.
Also the same evening Thomas Watts, Esq; Deputy Ranger of Enfield Chace, was robb’d by some highwaymen on the said Chace.
’Squire Hall, and another gentleman coming from Highgate on Sunday in the evening, were attack’d by three footpads near Pancras. The gentlemen drew their swords, and wounded one of them; so they got off without being robbed. One of the rogues fired a pistol, but miss’d.
The same night two street robbers were taken, and put into St. Martin’s Roundhouse, for knocking down, and robbing a man in the street. We hear one of their names is Ginsland, the other Kelley.
Last Sunday evening, between seven and eight of the clock twowgentlemen were robb’d by three foot-pads dressed in their long wigs, ruffles, and swords, between Buckingham House and the Turnpike in Chelsea Road of sixteen guineas, beside their watches and some silver.
The same evening, Mr. Wiliam Heblewaite and Mr. Leonard Hawkins, the former a journeyman vintner, the latter a leather-dresser, were robbed on their way to London from Harrow by three footpads, at the bottom of Child’s Hill, of their watches and money.
Sunday last a notorious thief and pickpocket was taken in Jermyn Street, a gold watch and 17 handkerchiefs were found upon him; he was committed to Bridewell for farther examination.
Last Tuesday evening a gentlewoman going to Highgate, and her footman along with her, she was attack’d and robb’d by three highwaymen, who took some silver, but miss’d her watch. What is remarkable, the footman seeing his mistress set upon, rode off; and when ransack’d, return’d again to his post.
That same evening at nine o’clock a tradesman of Westminster was knock’d down in the Mall in St. James’s Park, and robb’d of four guineas and his watch. (The Weekly Journal; or, British Gazetteer)
21 September 1728 On Friday last week about four of the clock in the afternoon, a chaise with a woman and a man, and a coach with three women and a man in them, were robb’d near Hampstead by two footpads: The rogues, after having got a booty of a small diamond ring, a gold watch, and 28 guineas, made off towards Bell-size.
Saturday evening, Mr. Andrew Crampton of Bloomsbury Market, was robbed going over Lincoln’s-Inn-Fields by two street-robbers, who took from him 11s. 6d. in money, and his hat and wig.
The same evening Mr. Johnson returning home to his lodgings at Hyde-Park Corner, was attacked by two foot pads, who robbed him of his watch and about 30s. in money, and got off.
Last week Mr. Winroe, a brewer on Windmill-Hill, was knock’d down on Ludgate-Hill, and robb’d of between four and five shillings.
The frequent robberies of late make it necessary to take notice, that his Majesty’s Royal Proclamation of the 29th of February last, promising a reward of 100l. for apprehending each person guilty of any robbery, with open force or violence, in London or Westminster, or within five miles round the same, over and above all other rewards given by Act of Parliament, remains in force, not being limited to any time.
Late on Saturday night last, Mr. John Hampshire, formerly Turn-Key of the Marshalsea Prison, was assaulted by some ruffians in Finsbury, who pick’d his pocket of his money and handkerchief.
Saturday last ... about 8 o’clock, Mr. Robert Myre, Merchant in St. Mary Ax, going in his own coach, with three Ladies, to his house at Cheshunt, was set on by some highwaymen, who gook from the company a gold watch, diamond ring, and money: They had taken from one of the Ladies her wedding ring, which they returned without being ask’d.
Sunday morning Mr. Nathan Silvester of Queen’s Square, by Devonshire-strreet, was robbed by a man, a woman, and a boy in a livery-frock in Pancras Road.They took from him fifteen shillings in silver, three pair of silver buttons, and the buckles out of his shoes.
On Sunday night last in Old-Stret, a hackney coachman was stopt by three footpads; both the windows were drawn up, and they finding no person in his coach, obliged him to alight from his box, and robbed him of 25s. which he had taken that day, and afterwards inhumanely stript him as naked as he was born, carried away his cloaths, and left him to drive home in that sad condition.
Last Sunday Mr Blowes, living in Thames-stret near Cole Harbour, with two other persons, were in their return to town from Bow attack’d by five footpads arm’d with clubs. The fell on Mr Blowes with great fury, who defended himself so well, that at length he escaped their hands as his companions had done before, having shelter’d themselves under the hedges, it being very dark.
On Sunday about nine o-clock in the evening, a coffee-man near the Royal Exchange, with three others in company, coming from Greenwich in a hackney coach, were stopped by two footpads; but the coachman, being a sturdy fellow, cry’d out, his coach was empty, and they making no answer, he whipp’d at them, and dealt so manfully with them that they sheer’d off; whereby he got a gratuity for himself, besides his hire.
Monday last ... a sailor coming from Portsmouth with about 11s. in his pocket, was set upon near Kingston by four foot pads, whom he gave his money to upon demand, but not contented they took his cloaths.
Early last Monday morning a man bringing rabbits to London on horseback, and another man on foot, were robbed near Shoreditch Church, in their way from Hackney, by 5 foot-pads, who took from one 8s. and from the other some half-pence.
Tuesday morning between six and seven of the clock, a hackney coach was robbed at the Stones End going Tottenham Road to Endfield. The rogues took from one gentleman five guineas and thirteen shillings in silver; but were forced to make off before they could plunder the other two, by the appraoch of some bricklayers going to work; but in the evening on their return, the samegentlemen were rifled of what money they had left, in the lane between Kentish Town and the Half-way House.
Thursday morning a maid servant in St Paul’s Church-yard, standing at her master’s door about four o-clock, to look out for the charwoman, was pulled out and robbed of 2s. 6d,. by two street robbers, who would in all probability have robbed the house, had not her calling for the Watch prevented them.
Last week a gentleman coming from Highgate in his coach, got out, and walking down the hill at some distance, he was attack’d by two footpads, who rob’d him of a considerable sum of money and his gold watch, then left him; but one of the rogues thinking the gentleman’s coat better than what he had on, return’d back and made an exchange. When the gentleman came home, he was agreeably surprized with finding his money in one pocket, and his watch in the other.
On Monday night last an officer coming from Kensington in a chaise, was stopt near [the] Duke of Buckingham’s House by one highwayman, who robbed him of what money he had about him, and searched for his watch, but being in a hurry, he over-look’d it.
We have an account of no less than 8 coaches being robbed last Monday night, coming from Waltham Fair, besides several people on foot, between Shoreditch and Newington.
Last Sunday night several persons were robb’d on their return from walking in the fields by footpads, near Kingsland Turnpike.
Also a poor milkman, on the same road, yesterday morning, was robbed by 5 foot pads; who took from him only eight-pence half-peny. (The Weekly Journal; or, British Gazetteer)
28 September 1728 On Saturday evening two footpads stopt a woman on the foot-way between Kentish-Town and Pancrass, and she being an old mumper, had nothing but stale meat, rotten cheese, and eightpence halfpenny in money in her pouch, but they took only the money.
The same night some rogues attempted to rob two gentlemen at the end of Lombard-Street, next Gracechurch-Street, but being disturbed just as they had knock’d one of them down, they fled without staying to rob them.
Last Saturday, about eight o’clock in the evening, a rogue meeting Mr Cray (a shoe-maker the corner of Old Bethlem, Bishopsgate-street) in Bucklersbury, enquired of him which was the way to Dowgate; Mr Cray turning from the villain, receiv’d such a blow as very much bruised him, and then robbed him of his watch. Mr Cray luckily saved about 8l. which he had about him.
At the same time a person was knock’d down and robbed in Rose-Alley, Bishopsgate-Street.
Last Sunday night Mr Wiggan, that keeps Baker’s Coffee-House in Exchange Alley, was robb’d by two footpads between Kensington and Knightsbridge.
A few nights since a servant maid returning from Fleet-street to Cecil-streeet in the Strand, was stopt at Exeter-Exchange by two street-robbers and a woman, who, to prevent her crying out, stufft her apron in her mouth, and then robb’d her of fifteen shillings, a silver girld buckle, and several other things; after which the woman robber stuck her several blows on her breast and then left her.
On Sunday morning ... about 11 a-clock, a coach, in which were Capt. Paul Winston and two more gentlemen, was attacked in Holbourn by three foot-pads, one of whom held the horse, and the other two came up to one of the coach doors and demanded their money, on which the Captain got out at the other door, drew his sword, and surprized the rogue who was holding the horses, on which the other two fled; but the third being carried before a Justice, was by him comitted to Newgate. (The Weekly Journal; or, British Gazetteer)
5 October 1728 Edward Nash committed to Newgate, for knocking down Samuel Rost in the street, and taking his hat; Fetherley another notorious street robber taken last Sunday Night in Barbican; Elizabeth Fillard, for stealing plate, and linnen; Marry [sic] Myram, for stealing linnen, a gold ring; John Taylor, for stealing a horse out of the common field at Peckham, John Bates for a theft on board the Scipio, John Smith for stealing linnen. ... Payn a master coachman stopp’d by foot pads in the Kings Road, who took two Gentlemen out of his coach, rifled their pockets in the Cockpit Fields, took ten s[h]illings from Mr Payn, and forc’d his coach and horses into a ditch, George Read, Thomas Richardson, Stephen Gilbert, Robert Walker and two printers from the West for printing and publishing that treasonable libel in Mist’s Journal of August. 24, are committed to the custody of Messengers: ... Bateman and Charles Cook committed to Newgate for a rape on Eliz. Bowcock. Mary Thompson for stealing a Gentleman’s purse with 35s. in it. Capt. Overal charg’d with murder on the high seas, has surrendered himself to take his trial. In short there are no les than 200 prisonners [sic] now in Newgate, and other City Goals for Criminal Matters. (The Flying-Post)