Early Eighteenth-Century Newspaper Reports compiled by Rictor Norton

Robbers and Footpads

Saturday 11 October 1718   Robberies are still frequently committed, and the roads more and more infested with thieves of all denominations, and in particular about London; since our last, four Gentlemen coming in a coach from Hampstead in the evening, were robbed within a musquet shot of the Turnpike at Tottenhan-Court by a gang of five padders, who pulled them all out of the coach, and took from them their buckles out of the shoes, their buttons from their sleeves, 27l. in money, and a gold watch; and near the same place on Sunday night a clergyman and another Gentleman was robbed in a chaise. On Surry Road these sort of Gentlemen got greater booties, but did not speed so well; for on the same day four of them robb’d all the passengers in their way to Kingston, and several of them under the gallows there, and had got a least to the sum of 1000l. but at last being pursued were taken in the town and sent to their strong quarters. In Essex we hear only of a physician of Chelmsford, who going to administer to a sick patient, carried with him a bottle of cordial, and two doses, viz. for a purge and a vomit, and robb’d him of the sum of eighteen pence, who, because he had no more money, oblig’d him there present, as a punishment, to take the two doses and cordial himself; and the physician being of a weak constitution, his physick operated all the way home in a violent manner. In Hampshire we hear a gang of rogues set upon a body of graziers coming from Wayhill-Fair, and robb’d them of 220l. (Weekly Journal, or, Saturday’s-Post)

24 January 1719   They write from Reading, of January the 19th, that there are such frequent robberies committed there by foot-pads, that ’tis almost impossible to go to, or from, the town morning or evening without meeting some of them. The County Goal is, at present, pretty well throng’d, there being no less than twenty seven felons, house-breakers, highwaymen, &c. and ten more are to be brought here against the approaching assizes, which begins next March. All goals round us are well stock’d, and several highwaymen have been lately taken between that place and London. (Original Weekly Journal)

Saturday, 20 January 1722   They write from Leadbury in Worcestershire, that on the 10th instant at 3 in the afternoon a Scotsman was robbed two miles distant from that town of 18 Guineas, 6 silk handkerchiefs, and several yards of muslin; that the rogues used him in a barbarous manner, having ript both the sides of his mouth, and cut off the tips of both his ears, the end of his tongue, and had cut a large cross in his forehead. (Daily Post)

13 July 1724   On Saturday Robert Coulthorpe and Thomas Webster, two notorious street robbers, were committed to Newgate by Justice Hewit, for stealing hatts and wiggs from off people’s heads in the night time. (The Daily Journal)

12 February 1725   On Tuesday night happened the greatest robbery that has been heard of for many years. Some thieves, getting upon the lids of the Exchequer, got in at the roof, carry’d away above 4000 guineas. Since which 12000l. is offered for discovering or apprehending one of them, and the same reward to any person concern’d in the robbery, and the King’s Pardon, who shall discover his accomplices. (The Post-master)

5 February 1726   Some days ago Mr. Webb, an Apothecary in Covent-Garden, going to visit a patient, at about one in the morning, was set upon by 3 rogues, near Golden-Square, each of them presenting a pistol at his head. They took from his his perriwig, watch, rings, and two bank notes, one for 40l. the other for 20l. and other things, in all to the value of 100l. then tyed his hands and feet, and left him in the street. [Weekly Journal, or The British Gazetteer ]








5 March 1726   Coll. Windham said in the news papers last week to have been stop’d in Cranbourne-Alley, and robb’d by four street robbers, only lost a little money thro’ his fear of being robb’d; for coming late from the masquerade, he put his purse with some gold in it under the seat of the chair, to secure it in case rogues shou’d stop him, where he forgot it, not knowing the chairmen or number of the chair. [Mist’s Weekly Journal]

2 April 1726   On Saturday last, as Mr. Wormsley, a druggist upon Snow-Hill, was walking in a field commonly called Brownberry Field near Copenhagen, about four in the afternoon, and reading a book, a fellow came behind him, and tript up his heels, and clapping a naked knife to his throat, swore he would murder him if he offer’d to stir. He slightly wounded him in several places, and robb’d him of his watch, money, hat, wig and cane, which two last he return’d, and left his own hat in lieu of Mr. Wormsley’s. That night he offer’d the watch to pawn in several places, partricularly at the Cock Alehouse in Golden Lane. The next day he was taken at the Bear and Ragged Staff in Whitecross Street, and carry’d before Justice Lowth, who committed him to Newgate. Upon examination he appear’d to be Henry Vigus, alias Shock, who had drove a brewer’s dray for several years. [Weekly Journal, or The British Gazetteer]

1 July 1727   Last Saturday-night Mr. Ellis, a brickmaker, going home to his house at Hogsdon, was attack’d by the Dog and Duck near Bunhill-Fields, by two foot-pads, who presented their pistols at him, one on each sid[e], and took from him six guineas and his watch; before he got home they met him again, and it being dark, attack’d him a second time; but upon his telling them, that he had paid them their demands a little before, and mentioning particulars, they parted very civilly, shook hands with him, and wish’d him well home. [British Journal]

Friday, 27 October 1727   On Thursday night George Ackers, Esq; belonging to the King’s Household, was set upon in Lincoln’s Inn-Fields, by three foot pads, who robb’d him of his watch and some silver; being pursu’d, one of the rogues was seen to drop a dangerous tool, which they call Bludging, about as long as a Constable’s staff, the one end small, the other big, and fill’d with lead sufficient to stun or knock down an ox. (Brice’s Weekly Journal)

13 April 1732   On tuesday night last Mr. Arth. Gould, who keeps the Hague Lottery Office at Charing-Cross, and his wife, were set upon in Leicester-fields, by 5 street-robbers, but he drew his sword and defended himself in a very gallant manner, as did also his wife, who seized one of them, who proved too sturdy for her; but several persons coming by at that instant, the villains made off without any booty, whereby Mr. Gould sav’d his gold watch, 50 l. in money, besides some bank notes, &c. SU.— By this account it is plain she wore a sword too. (Grub-street Journal)

3 August 1732   Monday, July 31. Saturday last were committed to Newgate, 2 Lilliputian street-robbers, viz. Capt. Cartouche, alias Cha. Patrick (a boy of about 16 years of age) and Will. Meeds charged on the oath of Will. Booth (another boy) for being concern’d with him in several robberies, particularly one near Cavendish square, where they assaulted a Gentlewoman on the highway; Patrick presented a pistol, and swore he would shoot her in case of resistance, one of them knock’d her down, and cut off her pocket, which they made off with, wherein was a fine mother of pearl snuff-box with a silver rim, &c. There are three more of the Lilliputian gang all in safe custody. DJ. — Oyner White, and Jos. Vaughan. C. (Grub-street Journal)

22 March 1738   Yesterday John Blackwell, the son of the famous William Blackwell, who went by the nick name of Long Will, and was one of the persons who robb’d and gagg’d Col. Des Romaine, and ravish’d his maid, at Paddington, for which he now hangs in chains at Edger, was committed by Col. De Veil to the Gatehouse for further examination, being concerned with a large gang of thieves in several felonies and burglaries. (Daily Gazetteer)

(Texts have been modernized with regard to capitalization, italicization, and punctuation, but original spelling has been retained. This edition copyright Rictor Norton. All rights reserved. Reproduction for sale or profit prohibited. These extracts may not be archived, republished or redistributed without the permission of the compiler.)

CITATION: Rictor Norton, Early Eighteenth-Century Newspaper Reports: A Sourcebook, "Robbery and Burglary", 18 March 2002; updated 5 June 2007 <http://grubstreet.rictornorton.co.uk/robbery.htm>

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