The Newgate Calendar - Supplement 3
WILLIAM'S father was a grazier, in Herefordshire, and he lived with him until he was sixteen years old, and then came up to London. Sometimes in the capacity of a footman, and sometimes in that of a butler, he spent five years in a very irreproachable manner. Unfortunately, however, he became acquainted with evil company, and soon became corrupted both in principles and in practice.
He began his course under the name of William Smith, and traded in the smaller matter of pilfering. In the dress of a porter, he, one evening, went into the house of a doctor of medicine, took down a rich bed, and packed it up.
In carrying it off, he fell down stairs, and had almost broke his neck. The noise alarming the old doctor and his son, they came running to see what was the matter; whereupon Gettings, puffing and blowing, as if he was quite out of breath, perceiving them nearer than they should be, said to the doctor, "Is not your name so and so?" "Yes," replied the doctor, "and what then?" "Why, then, sir," said William Gettings, "there's one Mr. Hugh Hen and Penhenribus has ordered me to bring these goods hither, which have almost broke my back, and fetch them away to a new lodging, which he has taken some way hereabouts." "Mr. Hugh Hen and Penhenribus," replied the doctor again, pray who's he? for, to the best of my knowledge, I don't know any such gentleman." "I can't tell for that," said Gettings, "but, indeed, the gentleman knows you, and ordered me to leave the goods here." "I don't care," said the doctor, "how well he knows me: I tell you I'll not take the people's goods, unless they were here themselves; therefore, I say, carry them away!" "Nay, pray, sir," said Gettings, "let me leave the goods here, for I am quite weary already, in bringing them hither." "I tell you," replied the doctor, "there shall none be left here; therefore, take them away, or I'll throw them into the street!" ""Well, well," said Gettings, "I'll take the goods away, then; but, I'm sure the gentleman will be very angry, because he ordered me to leave them here." "I don't care," replied the doctor, "for his anger, nor yours neither! I tell you I'll take no charge of other people's goods, unless they were here themselves to put them into my custody." "Very well, sir," said Gettings, "since I must carry them away, I beg the favour of you and the gentleman there to lift them on my back." "Ay, ay, with all my heart," replied the doctor; "come, son, and lend a hand to hit them on the fellow's back."
Scarcely was William gone, when the doctor's wife, coming home from the market, and going into the room, saw the bed taken down, and came running, in a great passion, to her husband, exclaiming, "Why, truly, this is a most strange business, that I can never stir out of doors but you must be making some whimsical alteration or other in the house!" "What's the matter," replied the doctor, "with the woman? Are you beside yourself?" "No," said the wife, "but truly you are, in thus altering things as you do, almost every moment!" "Certainly, my dear," replied the doctor, "you must have been spending your market-penny, or else you would not talk at this rate, as you do, of alterations, when not the smallest have been made since you have gone out." Quoth the wife, "I am not blind, I think, for I am sure the bed is taken out of the room, two pair of stairs backward; and pray, husband, where do you design to put it now?" The doctor and his son then went upstairs, and not only found that the bed was stolen, but that they had assisted the thief to carry it off.
Our hero next resolved to try his fortune upon the highway, and, meeting with a sharper on the road, he commanded him to "stand and deliver!" He robbed him of two-pence-halfpenny, when the sharper remarked, that "the world was come, indeed, to a very sad pass, when one rogue must prey upon another."
He next robbed a man of twelve shillings and a pair of silver buckles. From hence, he proceeded to rob the stagecoach, and recovered some money and a silver watch. Not long after, he robbed Squire Dashwood and his lady, of a gold watch and some money.
These, however, were only smaller exhibitions of his dexterity. One evening, well mounted, he passed by Tooling in Richmond, and, perceiving Sir James B—— walking in his gardens, he inquired of the gardener, if he might be permitted to view the gardens, of which he had heard so much. The gardener, well acquainted with the vanity and benevolence of his master, granted his request. Giving his horse to the gardener, he walked forward, and, in a very respectful manner, accosted the squire, who received him very courteously, and, sitting down together in an arbour, Gettings said, "Your worship has got a very fine diamond ring upon your finger." "Yes," replied Sir James, "it ought to be a very fine one, for it cost me a very fine price." "Why, then," said Gettings, "it is the fitter to bestow on a friend; therefore, if your worship pleases, I must make bold to take it, and wear it for your sake." Sir James stared at his impudence, but Gettings presented a pistol, and made a short process of the matter. Having taken the ring, he added, "I am sure your lordship does not go without a good watch, too." Making free with that also, and some guineas, he bound the gentleman, and went off with his booty, requesting the good squire to be patient, and he would send some person to set him at liberty. When he came to the gate, he gave the gardener a shilling, informing him that Sir James wanted to speak to him. He accordingly went, and untied his master, who returned him thanks for sending a man into his own garden to rob him.
Upon another day he undertook a long journey, for the express purpose of robbing the house of a friend; and he being well acquainted with all parts of the house, he was successful, and brought off money, plate, and goods, to a considerable amount. He at last robbed Squire Harrison of four guineas, some silver, and a watch; and being detected, he was tried, condemned, and executed, in the twenty-second year of his age.