THE GOOD OLD DAYS (part 2):-
Early records of felony and violence connected with Highgate and its neighbourhood and extracted from The Middlesex County Records - Sessions Roll.
June 1722. — "Last week an Apothecary, as he was riding to Moussel-hill, in
Devil's lane met with two lusty fellows, who siezed his Bridle, at which he was not a little surprised : They told him they intended him no Hurt ; that they were poor men, reduced to the utmost Penury and want, and beg'd something of him for their present support : He offered to give them 5 Siiillings, but they would not take so much, telling him that two were sufficient, for they hoped by the time that was spent God would send them more ; so they parted."
June 1722. —"On Saturday Night last, a Highwayman mounted on a black
Horse, and in a blue Rugg coat, robb'd several Passengers in Hampstead Road ; from one of which he took five Guineas. The night following, two officers were stript of 40 shillings, between Tyburn and Paddington, by one Highway-man whose Garb and Horse bespoke him to be the same person that had been so busy in Hampstead Road. The same night, two citizens that had been pleasuring it in a chaise, on their return home, were robbed in the lower Road of Islington. And three of these vermin were at the same time employ'd near Tyburn, where several Robberies were committed. We hear, that new Measures are actually concerting for the more effectually
preventing the designs of these desperate wretches."
1723. — "The Duke of Newcastle hath appointed Marmaduke Dealing of
Highgate, Esq., Lieutenant Colonel to the Regiment of Foot of the county of
Middlesex, under the command of the Earl of Tankerville in the room of Colonel Alexander deceased."
July 14th, 1730. — "Mr. John Clarke, a Cadiz merchant, returning homeward in a chair with his Lady, was attacked by a single Highwayman between Muswell Hill and Highgate, who being desired not to frighten the Gentlewoman, he very civilly promised he would not, and Mr. Clarke giving him a Moidore and Three Half-crowns he returned thanks and rode off"."
1732. — "A large meeting of Members at their new Lodge and grounds near
Highgate Hill" (Archery).
August 1737. — " In the Hurricane of the 3rd inst., Mr. Pultney had a house
near Mussel-Hill at Highgate blown down to the ground."
August 1740. — "On Tuesday John Shorter was committed to Newgate by Sir
Edward Hill for robbing Mrs. Evans on the Highway between Highgate and Caen
October 1740. — "On Wednesday night two Gentlemen coming from Highgate
in a Chaise were robb'd by two footpads in sailor-habits with masks over their faces, who took from them their watches, and about £7."
26th July, 1741. — " On Sunday evening as a Gentleman belonging to the Custom House and his friends were coming from Highgate, they were accosted at the bottom of the hill by a single highwayman with the usual ceremony ; they endeavour'd to overthrow him and his horse by theirs in the chaise, which the fellow observing,dextrously avoided, and at the same time fir'd his pistol, lodg'd two slugs in one of the Gentlemen, and then rode off'."
14th May, 1748. "A gentleman's servant was stopped on the road between
Highgate and Finchley by two footpads ; on demanding his money and catching the horse's bridle, he knocked one down, on which the other shot him through the hat, and he escaped from them."
Jan. 1751. — "On Saturday night a Gentleman was robbed of his watch and five guineas near Highgate by a single Highwayman with a crape on his face. A journey-man carpenter, with his bag of tools on his shoulder, seeing the action, told the gentleman that if he would lend him his horse he would pursue and take him ; to which the Gentleman consented. The carpenter came up with the Highwayman at the entrance of Gray's Inn Lane, and with the butt end of the whip knocked him off his horse and secured him. He was afterwards sent to the Gate House."
Dec. 20th, 1753. — " A young couple who had set off post, on their way to
Scotland, were stopt by the lady's relations at Highgate, and after a struggle brought back to town."
Jan. 1756. — " Died at his house at Highgate, Richard Draper, Esq., one of His Majesty's Sergeants at Law."
Jan. 23rd, 1756. — "Yesterday the constables were very busy at Highgate and
other towns along the northern road in impressing men for land service " (enlisting).
March 12th, 1759. — "On Monday as two Gentlemen belonging to the Temple
were coming to town from Highgate they were stopped by six footpads armed with pistols, who swore if they did not immediately deliver their money they were dead men : having got what cash they had, demanded their watches, which were accordingly delivered to them. They then obliged them to dismount, cut the girths of their saddles, turned their horses loose, and then ran off in the fields towards Hampstead. There seemed to be a desperate gang of them, as there were more at a distance.'"
Oct 1759. — " Last week died at his house at Highgate, Jonathan Ewer, Esq., of Hatton Garden, an eminent West India merchant."
June 6th, 1762. — "Highgate. This morning between twelve and one a post-chaise in which was a lady was drove through this town very furiously by two postillions, and attended by three persons who had the appearance of gentlemen, from which she cried out, Murder! save me! oh save me ! till she was almost spent ; but there was no possibility of relief, and they hastily drove towards Finchley Common."
July 16th, 1762. — " Friday, died at Highgate, Frederic Lason, Esq., aged 88, formerly a considerable Turkey merchant."
1763. — "Yesterday died at his house in Hornsey Lane, Highgate, Samuel
March 14th, 1763. — " Died at her house at Highgate, in the eighty-first year of her age, Mrs. Elizabeth Bonfoy, widow of Nicholas Bonfoy, of Abbot's Ripon, Esq."
March 31st, 1763. — "Saturday last died at Highgate, Miss Roberts, daughter of Mr. Roberts, an eminent Spanish merchant."
April 20th, 1763. — "Yesterday morning a Porter walked from the conduit in
Cheapside to Highgate for a wager of £l and a leg of mutton and caper sauce; he was allowed an hour, but performed it in 56 minutes."
April 9th, 1766. — "On Wednesday two footpads attacked and robbed several
persons near Whittington's stone, Highgate Hill, particularly a Post-chaise, and a Gentleman on horseback, of a considerable sum and his watch ; they returned him two shillings to pay his expenses to London. They remained on the spot some time,and obliged several persons to dismount."
1770. — "On Monday towards evening as Robert Jackson, Esq., his Lady and
Daughter were coming to town, they were stopped at the bottom of Highgate hill by two highwaymen ; one held a pistol to the servant behind, while the other presented a pistol to Mr. Jackson and demanded his money ; at which Mrs. Jackson was much alarmed, whereupon the highwayman took his pistol away, when Mr. Jackson delivered his purse with ten guineas, Mrs. Jackson gave hers without being asked for, and the young lady was feeling for her money, but some horsemen coming along, the highwaymen rode off full speed up the hill."
1770. — "This morning a small parcel of letters was brought to the General Post Office, having been found in a wood near Highgate ; they are thought to be some of the letters that were taken out of the mail that was robbed last near Highgate Hill,but they are so wet and the directions so defaced by the rains that it is impossible to find out who they are for."
February 1770. — "Died at his apartments in Hatton Garden, — Sheeoy, Esq.,
a gentleman possessed of an immense estate at Highgate."
1770. — " Lord Sandys was upset in his coach coming down Highgate Hill, from the effects of which accident he died 21st April."
August 24th, 1770. — "This morning the Post Boy carrying the Chester Mail was robbed at the foot of Highgate Hill by a single highwayman, who took out of his cart a small mail containing twelve bags ; £200 reward are offered for the discovery of the
1774. — " Mr. Burden, of St. John's Lane, walked from that place to Highgate and back again, being nine miles and eighty yards, for a bet of five guineas, which he won by performing it in one hour and twenty-five minutes."
17th May, 1777 — "Sunday' evening a gentleman returning to town from High-
gate, was attacked by three footpads near Kentish Town, who carried him out of the road into a field, where they robbed him, stripped him quite naked, and then made off"."
1779. — "Friday evening about seven o'clock Mr. Hart and his wife were returning to town from Hatfield ; three footpads stopped their post-chaise at the bottom of Highgate Hill, when the villains obliged them to get out, took what money they had,and examined the inside of the chaise, where they found a turkey and a hare, which they carried off, saying they should have a good Sunday's dinner."
1779. — " Yesterday as — Nendick, Esq., and his lady were returning from a visit from Hornsey Lane, they were attacked in their chariot at half-past nine at night, in the middle of the town of Highgate, by two highwaymen, who each with a case of loaded pistols demanded their money, and after robbing them of their purses, watches, etc., rode off."
1779. — " Tuesday' night about nine o'clock a gentleman coming to town from
St. Albans was stopped at the bottom of Highgate Hill by three footpads, who robbed him of about £20 in gold and silver, cut the bridle and girth of his saddle, turned the horse loose, and ran off across the fields."
1782. — " The number of robberies lately committed on the roads near the
metropolis, some of which have been marked with cruelty and murder, prevent many from travelling in the evening, however pressing their occasions may be, and create a general alarm. To exterminate those desperate wretches, who infest all parts of the roads round London, requires resolution and vigilance.
"It is much to be wished that the laudable example of the gentlemen of the
Highgate and Hampstead trust may be followed by the trustees of the other
neighbouring roads; they have employed a considerable number of horse and foot patroles, well armed with powder and ball, with instructions to apprehend robbers, so stationed and under such regulations that the traveller may pass unmolested.
" While the public are protected, there cannot be any who would not cheerfully pay the toll."
1782. — "John Prince, one of the horse patroles employed by the trustees of the Highgate and Hampstead roads, whilst on his duty at Holloway on Saturday last,had his horse shot under him, by a man who was in company with three more, and who afterwards surrounded him with cutlasses, but some more of the patrole coming up, the fellows made off."
Jan. 16th, 1782. — "This morning the postboy who drives the Chester mail was stopped near Highgate by three footpads, who led the cart down a lane, took such bags as they chose, tied the boy in the cart, let the horses loose, and went oft" in a single horse chaise that was waiting for them."
29th Aug., 1782. — "A gentleman returning from Whetstone was stopped on
Highgate Hill by two footpads, from whom he attempted to ride away, but one held the bridle, and they robbed him and cut him with a knife."