Ancient Heath Crime Records 1 - HAMPSTEAD HEATH - 2016***

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Ancient Heath Crime Records 1


Early records of felony and violence connected with Highgate and its neighbourhood and extracted from The Middlesex County Records - Sessions Roll.


" 10th December,14 Elizabeth. –True Bill that at... . co. Midd., on the said day of December, John Jarrett, alias John Slaney, late of Highe Holbourne, yoman, stole a black woollen cloth cloak worth ten shillings, of the goods and chattels of John Tuppris. Putting himself 'Guilty,' the prisoner pleaded his clergy; whereupon William Pyckering urged that the prayer should not be granted, as, by the name of John Jarard, late of London, yoman, for a certain felony by him in former times committed at Harnesey, co. Midd., the said John Jarrett, alias Slaney, was convicted a clerk, and after being burnt on the left hand, was, as a convicted clerk, delivered to the custody of the Bishop of London, the Ordinary of that place; to which the aforesaid John Jarrett pleaded that he was not the same person as the clerk so convicted under the name of John Jarard. At the ensuing Gaol Delivery, held on 15th February next following, a jury chosen and sworn to discover the truth
of the matter, having found the prisoner was the same person as the clerk in former times convicted under the name of John Jarard, it was decreed by the Court that he should be hung.

These records range from the seventeenth century to the late nineteenth century.

The author has edited them from a book called "History, Topography and Antiquities of Highgate, 1888"


" 1st April, 14 Elizabeth. — Coroner's inquisition-post-mortem, taken at
Hornesey, co. Midd., on view of the body of Hugh Moreland, late of Honirsey, yoman, there l3'ing dead ; with verdict that on 29th March last past, between three and four p.m., the said Hugh Moreland and a certain Henry Yonge of the same place, yoman, were together in the yard of the house of Thoman Aglyonby of Hornesey aforesaid, gentleman, when they quarrelled and fought, the said Hugh Moreland having in his hands a shovel, and the said Henry Yonge being armed with a ' shackfork ; ' when in the affray, had between them, Henry Yonge with the 'shackfork' gave Hugh Moreland in his left eye a blow of which he died on the present 1st day of April.

" 11th January, 15 Elizabeth. — True bill that, at Harnesey, co. Midd., on the said day, Jane Jones, late of London, spinster, stole a 'kerchief worth fivepence, and a ' neckercher ' worth fourpence, of the goods and chattels of William Danyell. She confessed the indictment ; it was adjudged that she should confess her offence in Hornsey Church on the next Lord's Day, in the presence of the parishioners.


" 5th March, 16 Elizabeth. — True bill that, at the parish of St. Giles-without- Criplegate, co. Midd., on the said day, William Tyler, late of London, labourer, a lazy and cunning fellow, cosened Thomas Weare of the said parish out of two several sums of money, by representing that he was in possession of certain acres of wood growing near Tottenham, which he had bought of Lord Compton, who, out of his goodwill to the deponent, had himself measured and marked out the wood for him ; that further, to get Thomas Weare's confidence, the same William Tyler represented himself as staying and living in the house of Sir Hugh Cholmondeley,Knt., at Harnsey, alias Harryngay, co. Midd. ;1 that by these false representations,
the said William Tyler induced Thomas Weare to give him an order for a hundred cartloads of the said wood, to give him fourpence ' nomine finis, viz., in earnest' on the bargain for the wood, and yet further to give him twenty shillings in partial pre-payment of the price agreed upon for the hundred loads of wood ; whereas it appeared on enquiry, that William Tyler had no wood to sell, and was not living at Harnesey, but was a cheat. Having put himself ' Guilty,' William Tyler was sentenced to the pillory at Fynnesbury.
(1 not to be mistaken for Sir Roger Cholmeley of Highgate)


" 29th July, 16 Elizabeth. — True bill that at Highgate, co. Midd., on the said day,Francis Jackson and Robert Gillingham, both late of London, yomen, stole a calf worth six shillings, of the goods and chattels of Rose Howson. Putting themselves ' Guilty,' both thieves were sentenced to be hung.

3rd February, 26 Elizabeth
. — True bill that at Harnesey, en. Midd., on the
said day, William Jones, late of London, yoman, stole a pair of buff hose valued at ten shillings, a silk doublet worth forty shillings, a pair of hose worth ijs, and a pair of taylors sheeres worth twelvepence, of the goods and chattels of Thomas Key.

" 22nd April, 29 Elisabeth. — -True bill that, on the said day, in the highway at Harnesey, co. Midd., Edward Pygott, late of London, gentleman, assaulted John Robertes, with the intention of robbing him, saying to him, ' Godes woundes delyver thy purse,' and beating and maltreating him so that his life was despaired of.


" 27th April, 30 Elizabeth. — True bill that, at Harnesey, co. Midd., during the night of the said 27th April, Rowland Bellyn, and George Bold, both late of London,yomen, broke burglariously into the dwelling-house of Thomas Ardern, Esq. (Cecilia the wife of the same Thomas Ardern being then in the same house with her family then at rest), and stole therefrom 'a cheyne of golde of small linkes' worth twenty pounds, another gold chain worth twelve pounds, a pair of gold bracelettes worth nine pounds, thirty-two gold buttons worth six pounds, a pair of gold ' tablettes ' worth
eight pounds, two gold rings set with ' diamondes ' worth seven pounds, another gold ring set with a 'turkys' worth four pounds, 'an emerald ' worth five pounds,twelve gold rings called ' hoope ringes ' worth six pounds, a jewel called ' a border of perle ' worth three pounds, a jewel of silver called ' a bodkyn of silver ' worth two shillings, twelve pieces of coined gold called ' angelles ' worth six pounds, one piece of coined gold called ' a piece of thirty shillings,' three pieces of coined gold
called ' duble ducckettes ' worth forty shillings, two pieces of coined gold called ' Englisshe Crownes' worth ten shillings, one piece of coined gold called a ' Frenche Crowne ' worth six shillings, one piece of silk worth forty shillings, a silk purse worth twenty shillings, of the goods, chattels, and moneys of the said Thomas Ardern. Confessing the indictment, Rowland Bellyn was sentenced to be hung. Against George Bold's name appears the note ' extra prison.'


"4th February, 33 Elisabeth. — True bill that at Hyghegate, co. Midd., on the said day, John Halle, late of London, yoman, stole a black velvet coat ' faced with shagge silk' worth five pounds, 'a blake silke groyrane ' cloak ' lyned with Taffatye ' worth four pounds, a pair of satin breeches ' of seawater grene ' color worth thirty-shillings, a beaver hat worth twenty shillings, and a ' bridle of velvett ' worth ten shillings, and a ' velvet jerkyn ' worth forty shillings, of the goods and chattels of
Evered Dygbye, Esq., found at Hyghegate. At the head of the bill a memorandum that John Halle put himself ' not guilty,' but was sentenced to be hung.

"4th May, 39 Elisabeth. — Coroner's inquisition-post-mortem, taken at Islington, CO. Midd., on view of the body of William Thomas, late of London, yoman, then lying dead : with verdict that on the night of the 3rd inst., between eleven and twelve p.m., the said William Thomas, in a certain highway at Islington leading towards Highgate, lay in wait for a certain John Cornelius, late of London, cowper, and with a sword drawn made an assault on him with the intention of murdering him, where-upon the said John Cornelius having in his hand a weapon called ' a birding piece '
charged with gunpowder and haleshott, in self-defence and for the preservation of his life discharged the said piece in the breast of the said William Thomas, thereby giving the same William a mortal wound of which he died instantly.


" 10th December, 44 Elizabeth. —True bill that in the highway at Hygate, co.Midd., on the said day, Bartholomew Turpin(suggested name for a highwayman) late of London, yoman, assaulted Simon Fielder, and robbed him of a leather purse worth two pence, and a piece of gold worth three pounds.

" 13th;, 17 James I. — Recognizances, taken before Sir Richard Baker,- Knt., of Henry Ascue of Highgate, co. Midd., gentleman, and Robert Longe of St. Albone's, co. Hartford, gentleman, each in the sum of forty pounds, and William Rowe of Wreste, CO. Bedford, gentleman, in the sum of one hundred pounds ; for the said William Rowe's appearance at the next Session of the Peace for Middlesex, to answer for his part in an affray, recently fought with drawen swordes between him and a certain Raphell Neale of Woollestone, co. Northampton, gentleman. G.D.R., 12th May, 17 James I.

" 17th January, 22 James I. — True bill that, at Islington, co. Midd., on the said day, Robert Atkins, late of Highgate, yoman, and at that time sub-bailiff to Thomas Bancrofte, gentleman bailiff of the Right Reverend George by God's permission Bishop of London, within the said Bishop's manor of Barnesbury, assaulted and arrested Richard Hylton, and by colour of his said office extorted from him two shillings and fourpence. Putting himself ' Not Guilty,' Robert Atkins was acquitted. G.D.R., 17th Jan., 22 James L


" 22nd June, 6 James I. — True bill that, nt Hyhgate in Hornesey, co. Midd., on the said day Dorothy Androwes, Sisely Musgrave, and Margaret Cockeyne, all three late of London, spinsters, broke feloniously into the dwelling-house of Thomas Williams,and stole therefrom a red wollen pettycoate worth five shillings, a linen apron worth sixpence, a linen kercher worth sixpence, a linen shirt worth two shillings and sixpence, and five shillings of numbered moneys, of the good chattels and moneys of
the said Thomas Williams at Hygate in the parish of Hornesey. Sisely Musgrave and Margaret Cockeyne put themselves 'not guilty' and were acquitted. Dorothy Androwes stood mute and was committed to the peine forte et dure ; the memorandum over her name being ' Stat mut' h'et judiciu' pene fort' et dur'.' ■' G.D.R., 6 James I.

(For not pleading the penalty was to be pressed to death, but as there was no conviction, it was not a felon’s death, and consequently was free of forfeiture of goods, etc. “peine forte et dure” (strong prison and hard) being the equivalent of that dreadful sentence)


" 4th January, 7 James I. — True bill that, at Hornesey, co. Midd., in the night of the said day, Thomas Sowthwell, late of London, yoman, broke burglariously into the dwelling-house of Robert Symons, and stole therefrom a silver goblett worth thirty shillings, a dagger worth ten shillings, a woollen cloth apron worth sixpence, three linen handkerchiefs worth sixpence, three linen guoyfes worth threepence, ' unum par manicarum panni lanci vocat' a payre of cuffes' worth twopence, a green silk girdle Worth twelvepence, ' unum horologium vocat' a litle bower glasse of pearlc ' worth sixpence, a copper ringe worth a penny, ' unum capitale panni linei vocatum a calle ' worth a penny, and a bone comb worth a penny, of the goods and chattels of the said Robert Symons. Found ' Not Guilty ' of burglary, but ' Guilty ' of breaking into the house, etc., Thomas Sowthwell was sentenced to be hung. G.D.R., 17th Jan., 7 James L"


" 5th July, James I. — Coroner's inquisition-post-mortem taken at Willesden, co.Midd., on view of the body of Robert Vincent there lying dead, with verdict that on the 3rd inst., in a place called Willsden Marshe, the said Robert Vincent and a certain Edward Carrell, late of Willsden aforesaid, quarelled and made an affray, fighting with their fists, when the said Edward struck the said Robert to the ground, and then kneeling on his stomach did punche him, and so bruise and crushed him, that he died at Willsden on the following day. On his arraignment Edward Carrell confessed the indictment, asked for the book, read like a clerk, was marked with the letter T, and delivered according to the form of the statute. G.D.R., 15th February, i James I."

The Sessions Records of a later date are in course of arrangement, and therefore not available, but some of the following extracts from old newspapers, from 1697 to 1830, will vividly illustrate the "good old times" in Highgate and its neighbourhood.

May 1679. — An advertisement appears relative to a horse that had strayed or been stolen from the grounds of Jeffry Thomas, Esq., of Hornsey Lane. (Many members of this family lie in the vaults of the old churchyard.)

Sept. 1721. — " One Isaac Drew, a drover, was lately taken at Highgate and committed to New Prison, being suspected to be one of the three footpads that assaulted,robb'd and murther'd Philip Potts, Esqre., Surveyor of the Window Lights, near Pancras Church."


Among the information furnished by these interesting records is an
item that on i6th November, 5 Elizabeth, a coroner's inquisition was
held at Hackney on the death of Henry Goslinge, a servant of Sir
Roger Cholmeley of Knt., who was slain in his master's service. The
prisoner seems to have been discharged, having " produced " the Queen's
pardon under the great seal.

A further record may be quoted, although rather wide of Highgate,
as a case in point of the law which exempted clerks in holy orders from
criminal process before a secular judge, and to show that the ability to
read in a clerkly manner was accepted as sufficient proof of the reader's
clerical quality ; but this privilege was so greatly abused, punishment
being thereby practically abolished, that to prevent the rogue getting off
a second time it was enacted in 1540^ that the " braun of the thumb be
branded," " M " for murderer, "T" for any other felony. This mark was
popularly known as the Tyburn T (the gallows T). The statute further
provided that the person who successfully pleaded " benefit of clergy "
should be delivered up to the " Ordinary ; " which seems to have meant
some detention in prison, for a longer or a shorter time, for the benefit of the Ordinary's advice, — a somewhat questionable advantage in De Foe's
time, as in his description of the horrors of Newgate he mentions that
the Ordinary was usually drunk by the middle of the day.

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