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The Newgate Calendar - ROBERT RAMSEY


Highwayman, and a singular Cheat. Executed at Tyburn on the 13th of June, 1742

THIS offender was born near Grosvenor Square, and apprenticed to an apothecary, after being liberally educated at Westminster School. His master's circumstances becoming embarrassed, Ramsey left him and went into the service of another gentleman of the same profession.

He then became a professed gamester. The billiard and hazard tables engrossed his time, and his skill being great he often stripped his companions; yet the money he thus obtained he dissipated in the most extravagant manner.

Having made an acquaintance with one Carr, they singled out a clergyman who frequented the coffee-house they used as a proper object to impose upon; and having ingratiated themselves into his good opinion, Ramsey took the opportunity of Carr's absence to tell the clergyman that he had a secret of the utmost consequence to impart; and the clergyman having promised secrecy, the other said that Carr was in love with a young widow, who was very rich and inclined to marry him, but that the match was opposed by her relations.

He added that the lady herself was averse to being married at the Fleet, even if she could escape the vigilance of her relations so far as to reach that place. The clergyman listening to the story, Ramsey offered him twenty guineas to marry the young couple, and it was agreed that the parties should meet at a tavern near the Royal Exchange on the following day.

Ramsey, having told Carr what had passed, went to the clergyman the next morning, and, observing that if the lady took her own footman he might be known, said he would disguise himself in livery and attend the priest. This being done, a hackney-coach was called for the clergyman, and, Ramsey getting up behind it, they drove to the tavern, where rich wines were called for, of which Ramsey urged the clergyman to drink so freely that he fell asleep, when Ramsey picked his pocket of his keys.

The gentleman, awaking, inquired for the couple that were to be married, on which Ramsey, calling for more wine, said he would go in search of them; but immediately calling a coach he went to the clergyman's lodgings and, producing the keys, said he had been sent by the gentleman for some papers in his cabinet. The landlady of the house, seeing the keys, permitted him to search for what he wanted; on which he stole a diamond ring, of the value of forty pounds, and about a hundred pounds in money, and carried off some papers.

This being done he returned to the clergyman, said that the young couple would attend in a short time, and desired him to order a genteel dinner; but this last injunction was unnecessary, for the parson had taken previous care of it; and while he was at dinner Ramsey said he would go and order a diamond and a plain ring, and would return immediately.

He had not been long absent when a jeweller brought the rings, which he said were for a baronet and his lady, who were coming to be married. The clergyman asked him to drink the healths of the young couple; and just at this juncture Ramsey came in and told the jeweller that he was instantly wanted at home, but that he must return without loss of time, as his master's arrival was immediately expected.

The jeweller was no sooner gone than Ramsey, taking up the diamond ring, said that he had brought a wrong one, and he would go back and rectify the mistake. In the interim the jeweller, finding that he had not been wanted at home, began to suspect that some undue artifice had been used; on which he hurried to the tavern, and thought himself happy to find that the parson had not decamped.

Having privately directed the waiter to procure a constable he charged the clergyman with defrauding him of the rings. The other was naturally astonished at such a charge; but the jeweller insisted on taking him before a magistrate, where he related a tale that, some days before, those rings had been ordered by a man whom he supposed to be an accomplice of the person now charged. But the clergyman, being a man of fair character, sent for some reputable people to bail him; while the jeweller returned home, cursing his ill fortune for the trick that had been put on him.

London being an unsafe place for Ramsey longer to reside in, he went to Chester, where he assumed the name of Johnson, dressed himself as a physician, and printed and dispersed handbills, giving an account of many patients whose disorders had yielded to his skill. By promising to cure the poor without expense, no person doubted either the character or abilities of Dr Johnson.

A young lady who was troubled with an asthma became one of his patients; and Ramsey, presuming that she possessed a good fortune, insinuated himself so far into her good graces that she would have married him, but that her uncle, in whose hands her money was, happened to come to Chester at that juncture.

During this situation of affairs, while Ramsey was walking without the city, he happened to see the clergyman whom he had so much injured in London; on which he hastily retired to a public-house in Chester, and sent a person to Park Gate, to inquire when any ship would sail for Ireland: and the answer brought was that a vessel would sail that very night.

On receiving this intelligence, Ramsey went and drank tea with the young lady; and taking the opportunity of her absence from the room he opened a drawer, whence he took a diamond ring and fifty guineas out of eighty which were in a bag.

He then went to Dublin, and later came to the metropolis, where he found his younger brother, who had likewise supported himself by acts of dishonesty; and the two brothers agreed to act in concert. Having taken a previous survey of Mr Glyn's house, at the corner of Hatton Garden, the brothers broke into it in the night, and carried off a quantity of plate; but, handbills being immediately circulated, they were taken into custody while offering the plate for sale to a Jew in Duke's Place. The Lord Mayor, on examining the prisoners, admitted the younger brother an evidence against the elder.

At the next sessions at the Old Bailey it was an affecting scene to behold the one brother giving evidence against the other, who was capitally convicted and received sentence of death. At the place of execution Ramsey made an affecting address to the surrounding multitude; entreating the younger part of the audience to avoid gaming, as what would infallibly lead to destruction.

After the customary devotions on such melancholy occasions he was turned off, and the body, having hung the usual time, was conveyed in a hearse to Giltspur Street, and decently interred by his friends.


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