Soldiers of the Foot Guards Convicted of a Robbery, Attended with Circumstances of Cruelty

            These men, to the disgrace of the character of the soldier, were indicted for assaulting and dangerously wounding, on the 14th of November, 1804, on the King's highway, between Sandwich and Deal, George John Piercy Leith, and feloniously robbing him of a quantity of bank notes, a silver watch, and some money.

            Mr. Leith deposed, that he lived at Walmer, and on the 14th of November he had been at Sandwich-market: in the evening he was returning home to his house, which was about six miles from Sandwich. It was a fine evening, and the moon shone very bright. When he came to Shouldham-Downs, where the road turns off towards Fowlney chalk-pit, he observed three soldiers walking before him; one was in a red jacket faced with blue, the uniform of the guards; and the other two had foraging dresses. When he came up with them he received a violent blow on the left cheek, which knocked out one of his teeth, and swelled his eye so as to blind him. At the same instant, the man who gave the blow called out to the other in red, "Comrade, stop him." His horse started out of the road, and went a little way over the ploughed ground, but the bridle was seized by the man in a round frock. One of them said, "Your money;" another said, "Yes, and soon." Whether he received another blow at this instant he could not tell, or whether he was pulled off; but, he fell from his horse, which ran away. They left him for a moment as he lay upon the ground; but, seeing them approach him again, he put his hand in his pocket, and gave them the bag containing the notes and money. One of them, with great dexterity, put his finger into his fob, and hooked out his watch, which he wore without a chain. They then all ran away. The prosecutor got up, and saw the moon, shining very bright on the turnpike-road: he soon after met a James Wyburn, and, with his assistance, got home. He would not swear to the persons of any of the prisoners, but he thought that Barton was the man in red, and Kennedy the one who stood at the head of his horse. He had that day at Sandwich received sixteen five-guinea and sixteen one-guinea notes.

            Serjeant John Rutter, of the third battalion of the first regiment of guards, deposed, that Barton and Moody belonged to the same company as himself, and Kennedy to the same regiment. On the Thursday, the fifteenth of November, as the witness was visiting the quarters of the married men who lived out of the Barracks, he saw Moody come into a public-house in Deal. Moody asked another soldier if he would drink, and offered to treat him with half-a-pint of gin if he would go out with him. The serjeant said, he had seen the hand-bills that morning, which gave an account of the robbery, and he knew that Moody had no money the day before, because the witness had lent him a shilling. Finding that he was apparently flush of money, it raised his suspicion: he, however, said nothing, but went home to the Barracks. Barton had been sent to the guard-house that evening, for coming drunk to the parade; and, about eight o'clock, Moody came in, and asked, "If all was well?" The witness supposed he meant to ask, whether he was home in time, and answered, "Yes." He then enquired why Barton was in custody, and was told, for being drunk at parade. He next asked the witness, if he had any objection to let a comrade sing a song, as they were undressing; the serjeant replied, that as it was not nine he had no objection to the song. He watched Moody as he was undressing, and observed him to take the jacket from under the head of his bed-fellow, who was asleep, and substitute his own, putting Austin's, the other man's, under his own head. The witness was obliged then to leave them to attend the roll-call of non-commissioned officers. He then concerted with Serjeant Young, and it was agreed that the latter should come into Moody's room, and say, that he had orders to search all men in liquor. In consequence of this plan, Serjeant Young came in shortly after, and searched Moody's bed: he took his jacket from under Austin's head, and between the cloth and the lining they found the watch, and three one-guinea notes, answering the description in the hand-bill.

            Serjeant Aylesbury deposed, that Barton was committed to custody that day for being drunk at parade. Moody came in that day about four, and he observed that he had some private talk along with Barton. At about a quarter before nine, the witness received orders to search Barton, which he did, and between the lining and cloth of his jacket-sleeves, he found several bank-notes, all of which corresponded in number and value with those described in the hand-bills, advertising the robbery. He delivered them all over to Serjeant-major Colquhoun. The serjeant-major was called, who corroborated the testimony of the last witness, and deposed, that he delivered them over to the constable in the presence of the magistrate.

            Thomas Simmons, a victualler at Walmer, deposed, that the morning after the three prisoners were taken into custody, he went to the guard-room about half-past seven, to carry the serjeants on guard some beer. Moody complained that he was uncomfortable, and begged the serjeant to take his hand-cuffs off for a little while, that he might tighten himself up. The serjeant said he could not do that, but if he would sit upon the table he would button his gaiters and jacket for him. He did so; and as he was buttoning his jacket about the breast, he said, "Moody, you have no collar on." Moody replied, "Never mind, we shall soon have a hempen collar that will fit us all." Barton said, "If you have one, I shall have one too, for I stopped his horse," Kennedy joined, and said, "But it was I who demanded his money; and as he did not give it, I brought him down with a topper of my bludgeon: I thought the horse had stamped upon his head when he was down." [Note: This confession somewhat savours of that of the three wicked fellow crafts in Masonic history, Jubela, Jabels, and Jubelum; who murdered their grand master Hiram Abiff, the widow's son, because he would not disclose the master mason's sign and word before they had become entitled to the sublime parts of that most ancient order.] They then said, that after he was down, they robbed him of a handful of notes, his watch, a half-guinea, and a crown-piece. Barton said to Kennedy, "I am sorry you beat him: when we went out I ordered you to rob but not to murder." They then described what they had severally done after the robbery. They had all made the best of their way to the Barracks, passing. Deal-castle, and they buried the notes that night under a large stone between the Castle and the Beach. Moody and Barton said, that they went home to bed. Kennedy said he went to the Canteen, where he got a roll, a herring, and a pint of beer to refresh himself.

            Serjeants Aylesbury and Young both corroborated this account of the last witness; and said the prisoners described what they had done in a kind of bravado manner, William Wyburn, the constable, produced the notes and watch, which was sworn to by Mr. Leith; and he added, that he had also lost half-a-guinea and a crown-piece, as stated by the prisoners, although they were not stated in the indictment.

            Mr. Hodgson, a partner in the Sandwich-bank, examined the notes, and comparing them with his book, deposed, that they were all paid by him to Mr. Leith, at Sandwich, on the day of the robbery. The jury found all the prisoners guilty. Barton, who was a very handsome man, pleaded much, with the judge for his life: and from it having appeared that he was the least cruel of the three he received a respite, and was sent to serve his country the remainder of his life in some distant settlement, but Kennedy and Moody were executed.


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