5 : Highway robbery

After we had filled our sack, we made off to Canterbury, and sold the pork to our correspondent in the Borough.

As my friend at Folkestone had forfeited his word by not returning my bitch, which I had left with him, I went there for her, and not only brought back my own bitch, named Stroller, but stole the puppy I had before sold to him, and another bitch, named Pleasant.

Passing through Canterbury the next day with my three dogs, I sold the puppy to the huntsman form whom I had before stolen it, for 5s.   Having rounded his ears and docked his tail, he did not know him to be his own.  Pleasant I sold for 2s 6d at Hearn-hill.  The huntsman afterwards having some suspicion that the puppy which I had lately sold him, was the same which had sometime before bought of me, but had lost it a few days after, questioned me about it, and on his promise not to mention it to his master, I confessed, that I had stolen it from him and sold it to a person at Folkestone, from whom I had again stolen it, and had now sold it the second time to him. The next day I stole a couple of hounds from Mr. Hammond, at Stone-house, and sold them for 9s.

Mr Wootton of Chartham, having as I have before-mentioned, lost his dog named Ruler, at Peyton’s, at Blean, applied to me, and offered to give me 5s if I would inform him where he might find him.  I told him the dog was in the subscription pack at Folkestone, where he afterwards found him. He gave me the 5s. and desired me to leave off this wicked course of life.

That afternoon Mutton calling on me at my mother’s, we went to Strood’s, at the Red Lion, and stayed playing at cards, till near twelve o’clock, during which time, William Bentley of Whitstable, drank several pots of bumbo with us, till he was intoxicated when he laid down on the bench at the door for some time, to recover himself, and shortly after took out his purse to pay his share of the reckoning, when Mutton observed that he had several guineas in it and, taking me aside, proposed to DO him on the road.

At first I was afraid, lest I should be known, but Mutton having two paper masks and two black gaberdines with him, told me he would disguise me in such as manner as to prevent discovery.

After discharging our reckoning, we went away. Mr. Bentley taking the high road to Whitstable, we the road across the fields, and meeting him on Clapham-hill, Mutton presented a horse-pistol to his head, demanding his money, or he would blow his brains out.

Mr Bentley immediately throw a green silk purse containing four guineas and a half, and a sixpence, with a hole in it, into his hat.

We then made off, and Mr. Bentley proceeded on his way to Whitstable.

Before we parted, we went to the Crown and Thistle, in St. Peter’s Canterbury, and spent near two guineas of the money on the ladies of the town.























Bumbo was a drink made from rum, water, sugar and nutmeg. It was originally the drink of sailors.

Highway robbery

Highway robbery was a common crime in the 18th century. Highwaymen were robbers on horseback. They targeted stagecoaches, carriages, farmers returning from market and the mail coaches. Highwaymen were usually armed with pistols and wore masks. They are famous for the phrase, “Stand and deliver”. They usually did not have to use force as asking for valuables at gunpoint was enough to make most people hand them over. The most famous highwayman was Dick Turpin. A robber on foot was known as a footpad.

Source: Nature of crimes, BBC Bitesize

Below is a cutting from the Kentish Gazette of a highway robbery by a footpad in the Blean area – not Jack this time!

Wednesday 6 September 1785

C A N T E R B U R Y, Sep 6
Highway Robbery at Harbledown

Yesterday in the afternoon about four o’clock, Mr. Hills an Attorney in London, in company with a Lady, who are on a visit in this city, were taking an airing in whisky, they were stopped about midway between the Turnpike at Harbledown, and the sign of the Gate, upon the Hill. Mr. Hills observed a man walking down the hill, bearing towards the horse’s head, and by his appearance supposed he was coming to ask charity, but as soon as he came near enough, he slopped the horse taking hold of the head-stall, and Mr. Hills asking him what he meant by such impertinence, he immediately took out a very long pistol from behind him, and said I must immediately have your money, and beg you would not detain me, but give it instantly, which Mr. Hills complied with, and gave him a guinea and four or five shillings. The Lady also, who was extremely surprized, gave him her purse, containing about eighteen or twenty shillings. The man walked off very deliberately to a gate by the side the road,, which he got over, and went across the field into the wood towards Blean. At the time the robbery was committed, there were carriages on the top of the hill, coming down, and Mr. Hills having sent the Lady who was with him home to Canterbury in one of them, returned to the Plough at Harbledown, and having got some assistance went in pursuit of the villain, but without success. In the evening a diligent search was made from house to house, throughout this city, and suspected person being seen at the Cross-Keys, Mr Hills was sent for, who on seeing the person immediately knew him again, and he was taken sitting in a public room; a brace of loaded pistols were found upon him, with powder, balls, and a bullet-mould, nearly the sum money of which Mr. Hills was lobbed, and particularly two bad shillings which Mr. Hills recollected to have had in his pocket. He appears a seafaring man and supposed to be named Marriott; the family is known by Mr. Hills, and been to the West Indies with a relation. It is said he has confessed the robbery and very glad Mr. Hills made no resistance for he should surely have blown his brains out.

>  6 : Stealing at the running match

Last updated: March 11, 2022 at 16:18 pm