The Newgate Calendar - Supplement 3
THIS man was a native of Oxfordshire, and by his parents bound an apprentice to a bricklayer in London. He served his time both actively and faithfully, and even carried on business for several years. Nor was any one suspicious that he occasionally took a walk or a ride upon the highway.
One day, being out riding in search of booty, he, after being pretty successful, went by several bye-ways, until he came to a gate where several men were standing. It occurred to him, that, if he was to ride back in haste it would create suspicion; therefore, he went forward and requested leave to pass. One who had the key said, that, if he would go and fetch a colt that was feeding in the park, he would permit him to pass. He did so, and the gate was opened.
When walking on the road together, he said to the man who owned the colt, "What must I have for catching the colt for you?" "Have! O dear, sir, what can you expect for such a matter? Why, I think that was a kindness to let you through the gate, or else you must have rode a great way about." Avery swore, in a most terrible manner, that he would have something for his trouble. The countryman, seeing him in a rage, promised him a pot of ale. This would not satisfy, and, pulling out his pistols, swore that he would not undergo all that trouble for nothing, and that, if they did not all presently deliver up their money, he would instantly shoot every one of them. The plain, unarmed men pulled out their purses, and gave him all they had in their possession, and he rode off in triumph, exulting that he himself had robbed half-a-dozen of men. Among his companions he frequently boasted of this action; so that one of them, when he was going up Holborn in the cart, said, "So ho! friend Avery, what! are you going to fetch another colt?" Avery was then too much engaged to make him any reply.
Upon another day, riding up and down, like the ravens in quest of food, he met an honest tradesman. They rode together for some time, when Avery asked him what trade he followed. The man replied, that he was a fishmonger; and retorted, by saying, "And what occupation are you?" "Why, I am a limb of St. Peter, too." "What! are you a fishmonger?" "Ay, I am something towards it, for every finger I have an hook." "Indeed, I don't understand your meaning, sir." Avery, pulling out his pistols, coolly observed, "My meaning may soon be comprehended, for there's not a finger upon my hand but will catch gold or silver without any bait at all." So, robbing the unsuspecting man, and cutting the girth and bridle of his horse, he rode off for London.
The return of want made him return to his former employment. Meeting an exciseman whom he knew, but to whom Avery was unknown, because he was masked, at a convenient place he commanded him to deliver, or he was a dead man! "Here, take what I have, for if there is a devil, certainly thou art one." "It may be so," replied Avery, "but yet, as much a devil as I am, I see an exciseman is not such a good bait as people say, to catch him." "No, he is not," replied the other; "the hangman is the only bait to catch such devils as you."
In a short time he was apprehended, along with the Waterman, who, through interest, was reprieved. Encouraged by his companion's success, he also made every effort, by frequent petitions, but to no effect.