Starting Page

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This is a new blog, and is still in the process of being set up – so please accept apologies for the appearance at the moment. 

This is a blog about Highwaymen. Not the musical group, but the thieves, brigands and neer-do-wells from English History.

My own interest was kindled as I researched one such rogue, George Davenport, who terrorised Leicestershire in the late eighteenth Century. About him, I know most of what went on, and I’ve written a book about him. But there were many others, mostly not so benign (George is never reliably recorded as having hurt anyone). If you want to read a bit about him, my book is at http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/104091 .and http://amzn.to/OjpeQO .

The most famous Highwayman, thanks to Hollywood, is Dick Turpin, of course. Although I think most people are now aware that he was by no means a hero,  for whatever reason he still retains his Hollywood Patina. But there were a host of others, and I intend to set up threads for each of them in time.

It would be so nice to encounter a genuine person who is interested in the subject rather than the current set of visitors who are trying to trick their way in to place adverts for various shoddy products; most of my time on this site seems to be deleting fake posts! So do please post if you are genuinely interested – I have amassed a fair resource on the subject and can provide information on most British Highwaymen.

3 Responses to Starting Page

  1. highwaymen1 says:

    William Davis – The Golden Farmer

    William Davis was actually a Welshman, born in Wrexham in 1627. His family moved to Gloucestershire when he was in his teens, and here he met and married the local innkeeper’s daughter. His father-in-law helped him to lease a farm nearby, and it seemed he was set for a prosperous and hard-working future.
    William holds the distinction of being the longest-lasting of the highwaymen, plying his trade undetected for some 40 years. On one occasion, his landlord called to collect his rent and departed with a cheery wave. Once he was out of sight, William donned his highwayman attire, armed himself and gave chase, catching up with the man just a couple of miles down the road.
    On ordering him to stand and deliver, the man protested that he only had a few shillings, which, of course, William knew to be untrue. So he forced him to empty his purse and then galloped away.
    A little while later, the man returned to the farm and found a very sympathetic ear in William Davis!

  2. highwaymen1 says:

    Edward Hinton (1673-1694)

    Edward Hinton was condemned to hang three times, but obviously only actually suffered his punishment the once! He was considered to be such a Danger to Society that he was condemned and executed on the same Day,January 1st in 1694

    He was born in London, in the year 1673, of very reputable parents. A good student, his father sent him to St Paul’s School. However, theft grew into a habit with him, and he took every opportunity which presented itself. He even robbed his father’s counting-house of a considerable sum of money, which he used on a prostitute.

    The first action with others was the robbing of Admiral Carter’s country house. Soon after this, they broke open the Lady Dartmouth’s house on Black Heath, and stole valuable plate. Hinton was arrested for this robbery, and condemned at Maidstone Assizes; but his youth, and the intercession of his friends, got him a pardon. He was again arrested for robbing the house of Sir John Friend, at Hackney, for which he again was sentenced to death; but was again helped by his friends, and the sentence was commuted to transportation.
    The resourceful Hinton persuaded the rest of the convicts to get the ship’s company below, and make their escape in a long boat, near the Isle of Wight.

    As soon as he was ashore, he left the other escapees and travelled alone through the woods, begging all the way to Hounslow Heath, telling people that he had been shipwrecked. But when he saw a convenient opportunity on Hounslow Heath, he unhorsed a country farmer and took his place. A short while later he exchanged this horse for a better one, and his own ragged suit for a very expensive one, with a gentleman he met.

    Back among his old gang, they continued to rob on the highway almost every day that passed. The Buckinghamshire stagecoaches in particular were afraid to travel because of them. Hinton alone twice robbed a Dutch colonel of his money, horse, arms and cloak. This gentleman was wounded in the leg by Hinton’s fire on the second occasion, and Edward, noticing it, lent him assistance and accompanied him to Epsom, where he left him.

    Again he returned to the road, and there is a tale that on one occasion, he and an accomplice held up a clergyman and his daughter. The clergyman pleaded for mercy, upon which Edward responded “All we desire is your blessing and a kiss from your pretty daughter!”
    The clergyman was less than enthusiastic, but his daughter took the pragmatic line and kissed each of them in turn. Laughing, the highwaymen rode off without robbing them.

    One day, after robbing the Southampton coach, some of the gang were taken, and though Hinton escaped, he decided not to venture any more on the highway; he returned to his old vocation of housebreaking, etc.

    Eventually several warrants were presented against him for robberies committed in Surrey and Hertford, and he was detained. One of his own gang had turned King’s evidence against him, which made the case against him look very strong; yet even here he had hopes of eluding the noose, by silencing the informant. Some of Hinton’s friends threatened the turncoat with retribution if he did not retract in court, which for his own safety he did, pretending that he had recollected himself, and that Mr Hinton was never involved in any robbery whatsoever.

    This resulted in acquittal at the Surrey Assizes, and he was sure that he would escape at Hertford, there being no evidence against him that he knew of; so he went to trial there with confidence. But when his trial began, one of his victims, who he did not expect to appear, swore so positively that he was the person who unhorsed him and took away his watch that the Court believed him.
    The judge was informed that Hinton was a dangerous person and that it would be safest to remove as soon as possible; the jailer protested that he was afraid he could not keep him a week in custody.
    Accordingly, Edward Hinton was convicted, condemned and executed all on the same day.

  3. highwaymen1 says:

    John Clavell (1603-1642)

    John Clavell was the nephew of Sir William Clavell of Dorset, and once he was arrested, he set about writing a long and tortuous recantation of his ill-deeds entitled (converted to modern English) “A Recantation of an Ill-Led Life; or, a discovery of the Highway Law. With vehement dissuasions to all offenders of the kind. As Also, many cautious admonitions and full instructions how to know, shun and apprehend a thief. Most necessary for all honest travellers to peruse, observe and practise.”
    He claimed it to be approved by the King and published by the King’s Command, but no-one knows if this is true or not. Whatever the case, he received a pardon and was released. This notwithstanding, he was immediately disinherited by his uncle.

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