The Newgate Calendar - ROBERT SMITH

ROBERT SMITH

Executed before Newgate for robbing Coachmen on the Highway, 8th of June, 1803

   THIS singular robber was a Scotsman, and one of those adventurers who, ingenious in wickedness, devise new plans of depredation, and make the industrious, whose hard earnings they enjoy, the chief objects of their prey.

   The mode of robbery which this man adopted was that of employing a hackney-coach to drive him to some??outlet, and then robbing the coachman in the first lonesome place he came to, in which for some time he was too successful. This trade he commenced early in the month of March, 1803, when, being genteelly dressed, at night, about ten o'clock, he hired a hackney-coach at Charing Cross, and ordered the coachman to drive to St John's Farm, near the first milestone on the Edgware Road. When the coach got to the top of the lane leading to St John's Farm, Smith pulled the string and asked the coachman to let him get out, as he had passed the house he wanted to go to; upon which the coachman got off his box and let him out of the coach. Smith then asked what his fare was. When he was told five shillings and sixpence, he put his hand into a side-pocket, pulled out a pistol, and swore he would immediately shoot him if he did not deliver his money, which the coachman complied with. Smith then demanded his watch, which the coachman likewise delivered, and with which he made his escape across some fields. On Monday night (6th of March), about eleven o'clock, he hired another coach, and ordered the coachman to drive to St George's Row, on the Uxbridge Road. When the coach arrived at that place the man got out and, with horrid threats, demanded the coachman's money, at the same time presenting a very long pistol to his breast, and slightly wounding him in the side with a tuck-stick. The coachman delivered his money, amounting to two seven-shilling pieces and eight shillings and sixpence in silver. The robber, on parting, told the coachman that if he attempted to pursue him he would shoot him. But his career did not last long, for on Sunday night, the 19th of March, about ten o'clock, as Thomas Jones and others of the patrol were on duty in King's Road they met Smith, whom they questioned as to his business, etc., and he not being able to give a satisfactory account, one of the patrol put his hand on his breast, and discovered a pistol.

   On Monday morning he was brought to Bow Street, and underwent an examination, when the hackney-coachman who was robbed near St John's Farm attended; and when a pawnbroker produced a watch corresponding to one of Smith's pawn-tickets he positively identified the watch, and also the person to be the robber.

   T. Jones (another hackney-coachman, who was robbed in Maiden Lane) attended, and likewise identified a watch produced by a pawnbroker, and the person of the prisoner. The prisoner refused to give any name, or to give any account of himself. He gave the names of Gordon and Smith when he pledged the watches.

   On his re-examination, in addition to the charges before exhibited against him, Francis Treadwell, another driver of a hackney-coach, stated how the prisoner had robbed and wounded him. Also John Chilton, a porter at Mr Spode's Staffordshire warehouse, swore that on the evening of the 14th instant, about eight o'clock, the prisoner stopped and robbed him of three shillings and sixpence, near Bayswater, and slightly wounded him on the breast with a tuck-stick.

   The driver of another hackney-coach identified the prisoner as having robbed him a short time since, near Wandsworth, Surrey. On his trial the prisoner pleaded guilty, and the jury pronounced a verdict in accord with his own confession and the evidence before them. He pleaded, however, for mercy, on the ground of its being his first offence; but Mr Justice Heath observed that his plea could not be listened to, for there were five other indictments against him for similar offences, and a sixth for firing at a person with intent to rob.

   He was executed at the front of the debtors' door, in the Old Bailey, on the 8th of June, 1803.

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