Archive for Highway robbery

5 October 1744 – Sarah Cox

Posted in Death penalty, Hanged with tags , , , on October 5 by Old Sparky

We’re always on the look-out for famous namesakes. We’ve had Homer Simpson, today it is the turn of Sarah (albeit with an ‘h’) Cox.

Far from being a British DJ, this Ms Cox was a highway robber who was rampant in the 18th century.

She hanged for her crimes at Tyburn in 1744.

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22 September 1704 – Tom Sharp

Posted in Death penalty, Hanged, drawn & quartered with tags , , , , , on September 22 by Last Writes

Today, we head to Covent Garden – the venue of a hanging in 1704. One Tom Sharp got it in the neck for a variety of robberies ranging from being a con-merchant to a murderer.
Volume II of the ‘Newgate Calendar’ revels in details of his unsavoury exploits, which started off mildly enough.

Sharp suiter

One such time, he dressed up as a clergyman and headed off to a City tavern, which was the known haunt of some ministers. He conned them into thinking he was parson and they fed him and furnished him with around £5.

But his pièce de résistance had to be when he targeted a pub landlord. Knowing full well the publican stashed his cash somewhere about the building, he started a fire, which drew the man to safeguard his money. Sharp kept an eye out for the landlord and clocked where he headed and hence to where he kept the money.

A grand’s day out

Meanwhile the small fire was put out and peace was restored. Tom then returned with two mates and three bits of fluff in tow. One by one, the couples proceeded to the place where the publican kept his money and they helped themselves to it – £500 or thereabouts a piece.

Of course, these are all hangable offences but the serious crime took place later – he was found guilty of murdering a security guard while trying to do over a shoe shop in Holborn, literally just up the road from where he was eventually hanged.

The sentence was death and the 29-year-old was apparently full of bravado right up until the noose was put about his neck. Then he changed his tune and started begging for his life. But it was too little, too late and Sharp fell flat on this day at the turn of the 18th century.

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21 September 1739 – Thomas Lympus

Posted in Death penalty, Hanged with tags , , , on September 21 by Old Sparky

If you thought Crimestoppers was a relatively new initiative, think again. In 1739, an Act of Parliament granted you £200 if you were able to bring in any highway robbers.

It may not sound like much nowadays, but £200 was a small fortune in those days. So imagine if the Postmaster General of the day offered to raise that reward by a further £200 – that gives you some idea of how much they wanted our next bloke.

His name was Thomas Lympus and such was his story that it made it into the gruesome chronicles known as ‘The Newgate Calendar (Volume III)’ – a book charting some of Britain’s most dodgy criminals.

Lympus was a wily old dog. Once he was done robbing a postal coach in the West Country, he didn’t hang around (although more of that later), instead, he hot-footed it over to France.

Gone with God

Of course the lawmen were committed to capturing him, so they followed him over, but he pleaded he was a Roman Catholic and the French church melted and gave him sanctuary away from his Protestant pursuers.

He may well have gotten away with it, had he not got greedy (or homesick, we’re not sure which). He sailed back over and did the same again, robbing yet another mail stagecoach, but this time, instead of sailing back to the safe haven that was France, the boat he was on was forced to turn back.

Back in Dartmouth, he used one of his stolen notes and suspicions centred on Lympus. Well, with a £400 price tag on his head, seven self-styled Boba Fetts with a warrant for his arrest pursued him as far as Kingsbridge, where he was snapped up.

Now they had him firmly in their grasp, there was no way they were going to let Lympus go and he was found guilty of highway robbery and strung up near Wells in Somerset.

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16 September 1820 – William Hall

Posted in Death penalty, Hanged with tags , , , on September 16 by Old Sparky

William Hall was had up for highway robbery.

He was sent to the gallows at Lancaster Castle in 1820.

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13 September 1823 – Edward Clarke

Posted in Death penalty, Hanged with tags , , , on September 13 by Old Sparky

Edward Clarke was hanged in Chester for highway robbery in 1823.

Highway robbery was a common crime in 18th and 19th century England. The targets were invariably horse-drawn carriages – the public transport of the day – carrying the well-to-do between towns and cities.

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27 August 1827 – Thomas Norton

Posted in Death penalty, Hanged with tags , , , on August 27 by Old Sparky

Highwayman Thomas Norton was hanged at Newgate on this day in 1827.

He was executed for hold-ups between London and Middlesex.

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24 August 1822 – Henry Durrant

Posted in Death penalty, Hanged with tags , , on August 24 by Last Writes

Highway-robber Henry Durrant hanged, after he was found guilty of holding up a horse-drawn carriage.

The thief was the first person to be executed in Horsham Gaol, Sussex.

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