The Newgate Calendar - Supplement 3

The Newgate Calendar - RICHARD KEELE


Highwayman, executed 23rd December, 1713

            THIS man was born at Ramsey, in Hampshire, and was bound apprentice to a barber in Winchester. In that station he acquitted himself so well, that he received his master's daughter in marriage. But, after remaining with her about seven or eight years, he went to reside with another woman, who had an annuity of fifty pounds.

            To gratify his vicious inclinations, his time was chiefly spent in the company of the most abandoned men and women; and it was not long before he excelled them in every species of wickedness. He at last commenced bailiff, of which character one says, "that the beginning is detestable, the course desperate, and the end damnable;"—assertions equally absurd and unjust: the office of bailiff being both necessary and lawful, it may be, and often is, executed to the honour of the individual, and the good of the community.

            Not long after he went to reside with the annuitant, he set up an alehouse, but was soon arrested in an action at the instance of a soldier in the Foot-guards, for keeping company with his wife, whom he aided in her robberies, until she was condemned, but obtained a pardon. When arrested, no person would bail him out, and he had not been long there before no less than forty robberies were laid to his charge. But, no prosecution being instituted against him, he was admitted to bail. But, being a prisoner on the first action, he removed himself by a writ of habeas corpus to the Fleet prison. He was, not long after, removed to Newgate, upon an accusation of blasphemous expressions.

            He was tried before Justice Parker, who sentenced him to stand twice in the pillory—once at Charing-cross, and once without Temple-bar—and to suffer imprisonment during a year.

            His time being expired, he became a bailiff's follower; but that being a poor trade, he again began to make free with other men's property. A coat and two periwigs were his prize, for which he was unluckily committed to Newgate. He was found guilty, burned in the hand, and ordered to hard labour in the Bridewell for twelve months.

            Accordingly, along with William Lowther and Charles Houghton, he was carried to Bridewell. When Captain Bureman was going to put them in irons, they rebelled. Houghton was shot dead, Lowther wounded, and Keele had one of his eyes shot out. But, having killed Edward Perry, one of the turnkeys, they were committed again to Newgate. Keele was maintained in prison by Isabel Thomas, for whom an arrest was formerly issued against him by her husband. She was a notorious thief, and had been married to many husbands; was burnt several times in the hand, but was at last tried, condemned, and executed for theft.

            In addition to the villainies of Keele, before he was committed at this time, he was one time in want of money, having paid twenty or thirty pounds to an adversary; and, meeting an honest man called Bond and Judgment, from his lending money on bond, and, when it became due, pushing very hard for payment, he commanded him to "stand and deliver!" Bond and Judgment answered, "Do you not know me, sir?" "Ay," replied Dick, "you villain! I know you to be a mercenary rogue, who would send your mother and father to jail for the fillip of a farthing; therefore, it is but a just judgment befallen you, to take all you have from you." So, clapping a pistol to his breast, poor Bond and Judgment was under the necessity of stopping the force of the bullet by three-score guineas. This so lessened his stock, that, when he was, not long after, lodged in Newgate, he found a difficulty to raise as much money as would remove his corrupted carcass to the King's Bench prison.

            At another time, Keele being well mounted, and accoutred with sword and pistol, met an officer, lately a tradesman, on Hounslow Heath. Keele gave him the word of command, "Stand and deliver!" He was indeed at a stand, but, supposing that the colour of his coat would inspire Dick with fear, said, "Don't you see what livery I wear?" "See whose livery you wear!" replied Dick; "you are a footman." "No," said C—— again, "I am an officer in the army; therefore, at your peril be it, if you presume to stop me when I am about lawful occasions." "Nay," said Dick, "if you go about lawful occasions, I am about unlawful. Therefore, deliver what you have, or we must try who is the best man." Said C——, "I don't bear a commission to fight with highwaymen. I only wear her Majesty's cloth, to fight for my queen and country." "Why, then," replied Dick, "this cloth, nor any other, must be a protection against my arrest; therefore, as this pistol is my tip-staff, I demand your money upon pain of death." But, finding no money in the affair, he stripped off his coat, waistcoat, and small-clothes, and ordered him to get another suit, and place it to the account of the regiment.

            Dick was at last brought to his trial, and, the evidence being decisive against him, he and William Lowther were both sentenced to death. In consequence of the influence of a sister, who lived with a gentleman of rank, he was confident that he would obtain a pardon, but was miserably disappointed.

            It may be proper to remark, that it was his usual custom to say, that he boasted in all manner of wickedness, and that, should he ever come under the sentence of death, he would never behave himself similar to the generality of those in that condition: that he should neither confess his crimes, shed a tear, nor show the least contrition or uneasiness. But, when he came to be in that situation, he was neither without his dread, nor the expressions of his awful forebodings.

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