Executed on the City Road, London, 28th of July, 1762, for robbing a Danish Gentleman, whom he treated with great Barbarity
ALL the robberies which we have been able to trace to this man were committed within the circle of a mile of Islington, the place of his birth. He was transported for a burglary near Clerkenwell, which adjoins to Islington -- which is in fact a part of that village -- and he was executed near the spot where he robbed and so cruelly treated a stranger.
John Plackett was the son of industrious people, living at Islington, who placed him at a charity school, whence he was apprenticed to Mr Pullen, wheelwright, of St John's Street.
He absconded from his master before four years of his apprenticeship were expired, and entered on board a man-of-war. His character as a sailor was unexceptionable; but when the ship was paid off he contracted an acquaintance with a number of dissolute people, and, having soon spent his wages in scenes of riot and dissipation, he commenced as a footpad.
Having subsisted some time by the commission of robberies on the highway, he broke into a house near Hockley-in-the-Hole and stole a quantity of kitchen furniture, for which offence he was tried at the Old Bailey, and sentenced to seven years' transportation. Soon after the expiration of the term of his exile Plackett returned to England, and committed several robberies between Islington and London.
On the 10th of June Plackett was drinking with some sailors during the greater part of the day, at a public-house in Wapping, and about twelve at night he left them, with an intention of committing robbery.
The same night Mr Fayne, a Norway merchant, was returning from the Danish coffee-house, in Wellclose Square, where he had spent the evening with some friends, to his lodgings in Shadwell, when, losing his way, he inquired of a hackney-coachman the road to Shadwell; but, as he spoke very indifferent English, the man could not understand him, and he presently applied for the same purpose to another hackney-coachman; at which instant Plackett came up and made signs for Mr Fayne to follow him, saying he was going to Limehouse.
They walked together through many streets, and obscure lanes and passages, till they came into the fields, when Mr Fayne observed that they could not be in the right road; but the other pretended not to understand him. They proceeded to the fields near Islington, when Mr Fayne became greatly alarmed, and expressed much uneasiness, for which, indeed, he had sufficient cause, for his treacherous companion, going behind him, struck him a violent blow on the back of his head, which occasioned him to fall to the ground.
The unfortunate gentleman lay for some time in a state of total insensibility; but upon recovering the use of his faculties he found himself entirely naked, and perceived Plackett standing near him, with his clothes and his pocket-book in his hands. In a few minutes Plackett made off with his booty, which, exclusive of his clothes, did not amount to much more than a guinea and a half. Information of the affair was given before Mr Justice Welch, who advertised a reward for apprehending the offender; and in a few days Plackett was taken at his lodgings in Gray's Inn Lane. The shirt that Mr Fayne wore when he was robbed was found in Plackctt's room; and the person was traced to whom he had sold the clothes.
At the next sessions at the Old Bailey, Plackett was sentenced to be hanged, and his body to be hung it chains.
The place appointed for his execution was near the City Road, and when he arrived there he pointed to the spot where he had robbed Mr Fayne, saying his soul was struck with horror when he reflected upon his cruelty to that gentleman. After hanging the usual time the body was cut down and conveyed to Finchley Common, where it was put into irons and hung on a gibbet.
The spot where he suffered was called, for many years afterwards, "Plackett's Common."