Trial of Goddard and Rustead for Blackmail


Benjamin Goddard, for a Robbery, and with Richard Rustead, for a Misdemeanor, in conspiring to charge Richard Wise, with Sodomitical Attempts, Jan. 1724-5.

BENJAMIN GODDARD, of St. Dunstan's in the East, was indicted, for that he with Samuel Axtell and John Bollan, alias Vallen, did assault Robert Wise on the Highway, put him in Fear, and take from him a Pair of Chrystal Buttons set in Silver, Value 5 s. Nov. 8, 1724.

Benjamin Goddard and Richard Rustead, alias Rusty, were indicted for a Trespass, in conspiring to charge Robert Wise with the Intention to commit Sodomy with John Bollan, and by that Means extorting from the said Robert Wise a Diamond Ring, Value 8 l. and several Sums of Money.

Robert Wise. On Sunday the 8th of Nov. last, about six at Night, as I stood up to make Water at Bear-Key a Man, whose Name, as I have since learned, is Bollan, came and thrust his Hand into my Breeches, when immediately the Prisoner Goddard, and one Samuel Axtell, started upon me from behind some Hogsheads, Now by G— we have got him! A Sodomite! A Sodomite! I was very much surprized at such a Charge, and they perceived it, and swore, if I would not make it up with them, they would presently carry me before a Justice and make Oath that they saw me going to commit Sodomy with Bollan. Tho' I knew myself innocent, I was terrified at the Thoughts of coming under such a Scandal, and asked them, what they would have me do? They said, they must have what Money I had about me. I told them I had none, but, if they would let me go, I would give them a Pair of Chrystal Buttons, and accordingly I offered them to Goddard, who took them, but swore they must have something else, or it would be worse for me, and so they follow'd me Home. As I was going in, they told me, if I did not come down again quickly, and bring them some Money, they would carry me to Newgate directly; and they bid me borrow a Guinea of the Maid, if I could get it no otherwise. I promised to try what I could do, and so I went in, and fetched out two York-Buildings Lottery Tickets, each of the Value of 30 s. which I gave them, and so they went away for that Time. At two other Times they got 15 s. more or me. On the 17th of December, at Night, Goddard and Rustead waited for my coming out, and as I was going along Gutter-lane, Rustead clapped me on the Shoulder, and swore that they had then got a Warrant to carry me to Newgate, and they would certainly execute it, if I did not give them 4 l. for he said his Brother Goddard was going to settle in the Country, andwanted a little Money to fit him out: I told them I believed I had got 40 s about me, and I would give it them if they would be satisfied, and never trouble me any more. They swore they never would, and so I gave them 40 s. but, as soon as they got it, they insisted upon my making it up 4 l. and promised, with a great many bitter Wishes, that if I comply'd, they would never come after me again. At last I gave them the other 40 s. and then they left me; but, the very next Night, hearing the Bell right, I went down to see who was at the Door; I saw nobody when I first opened it, but in a little Time Rustead stepped up, and said, he must needs speak with me, and would have had me out, but I was unwilling to go, and therefore desired him to come into the Shop, which he did, and then he swore, that his Brother Goddard was gone out of Town, but had left two Rings in Pawn, and he must have 4 l. to redeem them. I put him in mind of what he swore the preceding Night; but found it was to no Purpose, for he would not go away without something. I had no Money about me, and, not knowing what else to do, I at last, though with much Reluctance, gave him a Diamond Ring from off my Finger, and then he went away; but, as soon as he was gone, I was so vexed with myself for parting with the Ring, which cost 8 l. that I stepped after him to try if I could not get ig again, upon the Promise of Money inLieu of it. I had gone but a little Way, when, to my great Surprize, I found him and Goddard talking together. As soon as they saw me, they swore they must and would have 40 s. more, or it should be worse for me. This raised a little Disturbance, when a Boy coming by, and asking me what was the Matter, I told him they had cheated me out of a Ring; Oh! says he, I know one of these Fellows, his Name is Rustead, he uses the Sodomite's Walk in Moorfields. —— Do ye know him? says I, then I'l tell my Master the whole Story to-morrow, and upon that the Prisoners both ran away, and I heard no more of them till they were taken, which was not long after; for, it seems, they were drinking at the Farthing Pye-house near Moorfields, from whence they sent a Man to sell the Ring they had from me: This fellow happened to offer it to the very Goldsmith, of whom I bought it, who thereupon stopt him, and sent Word to my Master. The Man, to save himself, discovered where the Prisoners were waiting, by which Means they were apprehended.

Richard Bailey, Constable. I seized the Prisoners at the Farthing Pye-house, and asked them, why they took the Money and other Things from the Prosecutor? they answered, Ask him, he knows. Rustead owned, that he had most of the Money from the Prosecutor, and that, for some Time before they met with him, they had all four (Goddard, Axtell, Bollan, and himself) followed that Praactice of getting Money; and Goddard confessed, that he took the Buttons from the Prosecutor, and informed me where I might meet with Axtell and Bollan. I found them accordingly, and apprehended them; but they were admitted to Bail, and are since run away.

Goddard. It was not I, but another, that took the Buttons from the Prosecutor. I met him accidentally in Moorfields one Night, and he told me that he had committed Sodomy twice with Bollan.

Court. Were you acquainted with him then?

Goddard. No, he was an entire Stranger to me, I never so much as saw him before.

Court. It's a very unlikely Story, that any one should confess a Crime of such a Nature to a Stranger.

Rustead. I met Goddard and the Prosecutor in Moorfields. Goddard told me, that the Prosecutor had twice been guilty of Sodomy with Bollan: Upon which the Prosecutor took me by the Arm, and said, Pray don't go to my Master's House to disgrace me, for I am a young Gentleman, and it will be my Ruin.

The Jury acquitted Goddard of the Robbery, but found him and Rustead guilty of the Misdemeanor.

Their sentence was, To pay a Fine of 20 l. each, to stand in the Pillory once at Tower-hill, and once at Cheapside-Conduit, and afterwards to suffer six Months Imprisonment.

[See also news reports for 19 September 1724, 20 February 1725.]

SOURCE: Select Trials at the Sessions-House in the Old-Bailey, From the Year 1720, to this Time, Dublin, Printed by S. Powell, For W. Smith in Dame-street, G. Faulkner, in Essex-street, and Oli. Nelson, in Skinner-Row, 1743, vol. 2, pp. 173-6.

CITATION: If you cite this Web page, please use the following citation:
Rictor Norton (Ed.), "Trial of Goddard and Rustead for Blackmail," Homosexuality in Eighteenth-Century England: A Sourcebook. 10 April 2000; updated 19 June 2008 <>.

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