A Robber whose thoughtful Wife bought the Rope to hang him. Executed at Tyburn in June, 1709.
THIS great villain, Richard Hughes, was the son of a very good yeoman living at Bettws, in Denbighshire, in North Wales, where he was born, and followed husbandry, but would now and then be pilfering in his very minority, as he found opportunity. When he first came up to London, on his way money being short, necessity compelled him to steal a pair of tongs at Pershore in Worcestershire, for which he was sent to Worcester Jail; and at the assizes held there, the matter of fact being plainly proved against him, the judge directed the jury to bring him in guilty only of petty larceny; and accordingly, giving in their verdict guilty to the value of tenpence, he came off with crying carrots and turnips, a term which rogues use for whipping at the cart's tail.
After this introduction to further villainy, Dick Hughes, coming up to London, soon became acquainted with the most celebrated villains in this famous metropolis, especially with one Thomas Lawson, alias Browning, a tripe man, who was hanged at Tyburn on Tuesday, the 27th of May, 1712, for felony and burglary, in robbing the house of one Mr Hunt, at Hackney. In a very short time he became noted for his several robberies; but at last, breaking open a victualling-house at Lambeth, and taking from thence only the value of three shillings, because he could find no more, he was tried and condemned for that fact at the assizes held at Kingston-upon-Thames; but was then reprieved, and afterwards pleaded his pardon at the same place. Now being again at liberty, instead of becoming a new man he became rather worse than before, breaking open and robbing several houses, at Tottenham Cross, Harrow-on-the-Hill, a gentlewoman's house at Hackney, a gentleman's at Hammersmith, a minister's near Kingston- upon-Thames, a tobacconist's house in Red Cross Street, and a house on Hounslow Heath.
Burglaries being the masterpiece of Dick Hughes's villainy, he went chiefly on them; till at last, breaking open and robbing the house of one Mr George Clark, at Twickenham, he was apprehended for this fact, and committed to Newgate.
Whilst he lay under condemnation, his wife, to whom he had been married in the Fleet Prison, constantly visited him at chapel. She was a very honest woman, and had such an extraordinary kindness for her husband under his great afflictions that when he went to be hanged at Tyburn, on Friday, the 24th of June, 1709, she met him at St Giles's Pound, where, the cart stopping, she stepped up to him, and whispering in his ear, said: "My dear, who must find the rope that's to hang you - me or the sheriff?" Her husband replied: "The sheriff, honey; for who's obliged to find him tools to do his work?" "Ah!" replied his wife, "I wish I had known so much before; it would have saved me twopence, for I have been and bought one already." "Well, well," said Dick again, "perhaps it mayn't be lost, for it may serve a second husband." "Yes," quoth his wife, "if I have any luck in good husbands, so it may." Then, the cart driving on to Hyde Park Corner, this notorious villain ended his days there, in the thirtieth year of his age; and was after anatomised at Surgeons' Hall, in London.