The Newgate Calendar - Supplement 3

The Newgate Calendar - TOM DORBEL


Highwayman Turned Servant who Robbed and Murdered his Mistress' Niece

            THIS robber was bred a glover; but before he had served one half of his time, he run off from his master, and, coming to London, soon became acquainted with men of dispositions similar to his own. About the age of nineteen, Tom ventured to appear upon the highway; but he was nearly outwitted in his first attempt.

            Meeting a Welshman, he demanded Taffy's money, or he would take his life. The Welshman said, "Hur has no of hur own, but has threescore pounds of hur master's money; but Cot's blood I hur must not give hur master's money: what would hur master then say for hur doing so?" Tom replied, "You must not put me off with your cant; for money I want, and money I will have, let it be whose it will; or expect to be shot through the head." The Welshman then delivered the money, saying, "What hur gives you is none of hur own; and, that hur master may not think hur has spent hur money, hur requests you to be so kind as to shoot some holes through hur coat-lappets, that hur master may see hur was robbed." So, suspending his coat upon a tree, Tom fired his pistol through it. Taffy exclaimed, "Gots splatter a-nails! this is a pretty pounce; pray give hur another pounce for hur money I" Tom fired another shot through his coat. "By St. Davy, this is a better pounce than the other! pray give hur one pounce more!" Quoth Tom, "I have never another pounce left." "Why, then," replied the Welshman, "Hur has one pounce left for hur, and if hur will not give hur hur money again, hur will pounce hur through hur body." He quietly returned the money, and was thankful he was allowed to depart.

            But this narrow escape did not deter Dorbel, and he continued his villainies about the space of five years. It happened, however, that a gentleman's son was taken for robbing on the highway; and, as he was formerly pardoned, he now despaired of obtaining mercy a second time. Tom undertook, for the sum of five hundred pounds, to bring him off. The one-half was paid in hand, and the other half was to be paid when the deliverance was effected. When the young gentleman came upon his trial he was found guilty; but when the judge was about to pass sentence, Tom cried out, "Oh I what a sad thing it is to shed innocent blood! Oh I what a sad thing it is to shed innocent blood!" and, continuing to reiterate the expression, he was apprehended, and, the judge interrogating him what he meant by such an expression, he said, "May it please your lordship, it is a very hard thing for a man to die wrongfully; but one may see how hard-mouthed some people are, by the witnesses swearing that this gentleman here at the bar now, robbed them on the highway at such a time, when indeed, my lord, I was the person that committed that robbery." Accordingly, Tom was taken into custody, and the young gentleman liberated. He was brought to trial at the following assizes; and being asked, whether he was guilty or not? he pleaded not guilty! "Not guilty!" replied the judge; "why, did not you at last assizes, when I was here, own yourself guilty of such a robbery?" Quoth Tom, "I don't know how far I was guilty then, but, upon my word, I am not guilty now; therefore, if any person can accuse me of committing such a robbery, I desire they may prove the same." No witnesses appearing, he was acquitted.

            Tom living at such an extravagant rate in the prison, had scarcely any part of the five hundred pounds remaining, when he obtained his liberty; therefore, endeavouring to recruit his funds by robbing the Duke of Norfolk, near Salisbury, his horse was shot, and he taken, and condemned at the next assizes. While under sentence, he found a lawyer who engaged, for the sum of fifty guineas, to obtain his pardon. He accordingly rode to London, was successful, and just arrived in time with the pardon, when Dorbel was about to be thrown off, having rode so hard, that his horse immediately dropped down dead. Such, however, was Tom's ingratitude, that he refused to pay the lawyer, alleging, that any obligation given by a man under sentence of death, was not valid.

            Dorbel was so much alarmed upon his narrow escape from a violent death, that he resolved to abandon the collecting trade, and served in several families in the station of a footman. He also served six or seven years with a lady in Ormond-street, who had a brother a merchant in Bristol, who, having an only daughter sixteen years of age, she prevailed upon her father to allow her to come to London to perfect her education. Dorbel being a person in whom her aunt thought she could place unlimited confidence, he was left alone with her, when the miscreant first shockingly abused her person, then robbed her of her gold watch, diamond ring, jewels to the amount of an hundred pounds, and, cutting a hole in the back of the coach, escaped, leaving the young lady in a swoon. It was with difficulty she recovered, to inform her relations how she had been treated. Her mother hastened to town to see her, and, after speaking a few words to her, the poor girl breathed her last. The disconsolate father soon after lost his senses.

            Dorbel was pursued in different directions, and apprehended just after he had robbed a gentleman of three pounds five shillings. He was tried, and condemned to be executed and hung in chains.

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