A Boy condemned to Death for robbing a Pieman, who had swindled him on Hounslow Heath, of a few Halfpence, March, 1794
THE particulars of this youth's offence were simply these: he had been reprimanded by his parents for some boyish indiscretion, and, like many more headstrong sons, left his paternal roof, rambling he knew not whither, when, upon Hounslow Heath, he met one of those knavish pastry pedlars who cheat boys and girls and ignorant country clowns, in pretending to toss up for his penny pies.
Poor Goodiff thought fortune might enable him to fill his empty stomach at an easy rate, and therefore staked his all -- a few pence -- with the pieman; but, alas! he lost his fortune without even touching one of the savoury bits on which Hunger had fixed her mark.
Stung with disappointment he attacked the pieman, and forcibly took away from him the miserable pittance of which he conceived himself to have been cheated. This was, in the eye of the law, a highway robbery; and the vindictive gambler in tarts, finding the lad to be of good family, thought to extort high damages for the indignity and loss which he had received, but in seeking redress he went too far; for, applying to one of those human sharks who hover round the Old Bailey pretending to be attorneys-at-law, he laid the indictment for a capital offence, from which no interest could rescue his prisoner from a disgraceful conviction, and subject to an ignominious death.
For this offence the unfortunate boy was actually convicted, at the Old Bailey, and sentenced to die, in March, 1794.
On the representation of this case to the Privy Council his Majesty's pardon was granted, on condition the boy served him in the navy.
The youth disdainfully refused the proffered mercy, and insisted on undergoing his sentence; but his afflicted parents persuaded him to the contrary, and he was conducted from Newgate to the tender which lay at anchor in the Thames, near the Tower, for the purpose of receiving impressed men.