Image of two men kissingHomosexuality in Eighteenth-Century England: A Sourcebook compiled by Rictor Norton

Decoy Ducks, 1744

Note:In 1744 a gang of eight soldiers belonging to the First Regiment of Guards were arrested for soliciting gay men in St James's Park and then robbing them. One of the soldiers, a young, good-looking redhead, acted as the "Decoy Duck", who enticed the victim into a more secluded area, then when their actions made it impossible to deny they were "Mollying one another", another soldier would run up and "surprise" them. They then demanded all their money and watches and sometimes beat them up, threatening to take them to the Watch if they resisted. A married tailor who made waistcoats for the regiment fenced their stolen goods and later turned King's Evidence against them. Only two of the soldiers were convicted, as the victims were too ashamed to come forward at the trials. The trials and revelations made to the prison chaplain document a dozen incidents, clearly establishing that the area south of Hyde Park Corner was a popular gay cruising ground. The soldiers could recognize gay men by their behaviour and by their response to gay chat-up lines and gay slang.

News Reports

25 October 1744

LONDON, Octo. 20.
Wednesday James Ruggles, John Smith, Thomas Cheworth, Christopher Jackson, Robert Pinker, and David Shadow, were all committed to the Gatehouse, Westminster, by Sir Thomas De Veil, for a great Number of Felonies and Robberies committed on the King's Highway, with one of their Accomplices (Rowling Brown) gave an Information of; and upon Examination, which lasted many Hours during two Days, the Circumstances of each Robbery appear'd very clear, and so many corroborating Proofs were made out against the Prisoners that they had but little or nothing to say for themselves. They are all committed for further Examination, many other Proofs, having been made since the Information taken, by some of the Persons robb'd; upon which they will all be re-examined in a few Days.
          One of them is charg'd with the Murder of Mr. Hutchens, (who kept the Five Bells at Chelsea) at bloody Bridge sometime since.
          The same Day Staffordshire Nan, of Thieving-lane, Westminster, was committed to Newgate, for being concern'd in the said Murder.
          An Order is gone to bring up a certain Serjeant and Corporal, who are recruiting in the Country, being charg'd to be Confederates.
          'Tis said that an order will speedily be issued by the General Officers of the Army, that for the future, no Private Soldier shall appear but in his Regimentals; and when off Duty, not to wear a Sword or Bayonet by his Side. (Stamford Mercury)

27 December 1744

On Wednesday there was an extraordinary Council at St. James's, when the Report of the Malefactors condemn'd last Sessions at the Old Bailey, was made to his Majesty, who was pleased to reprieve David Shaddowes, and James Ruggles, two Soldiers, for a Robbery in St. James's Park; and Robert Carter, for robbing Mr. Wellday in Moorfields, and ordered the other 18 for Execution. (Stamford Mercury)

Monday, 31 December 1744

This Day is published,
The Proceedings on the Kings Commissions of the Peace Oyer and Terminer, held for the City of London and County of Middlesex, before the Right Hon Henry Marshall, Esq; . . . on the 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, and 10th Instant.
Wherein are contained the Trials of . . .
David Shadows, James Ruggles, John Smith, Thomas Cheworth, Christopher Jackson, and Robert Pinkey, six Soldiers belonging to the Foot-Guards, for robbing Mr. Church of a Watch, &c. in St. James's Park; and three other Robberies committed in the same Place, on Persons who endeavoured (according to the Evidence of the Accomplice) to be concern'd with them in Sodomitical Practices. (General Adevertiser)

The Trial of David Shaddows and James Ruggles, December 1744

91, 92.   David Shaddows, and James Ruggles, of St. Martin's in the fields, were indicted for assaulting John Church, in a certain open place near the King's highway, called St. James's Park, putting him in fear, &c. and taking from him a silver watch, value 40 s. a stock-buckle, value 5 s. and two shillings and twoppence halfpeny in money, his property, Sept. 17.
            John Church. On the 17th of September I had been at Hide-park-corner about a little besiness [sic], and going from Hide-park to St. James's Park, in order to go to Westminster, when I had got almost to the bottom of Constitution-hill, in the Middle Park, before you come to Buckingham-house, I was met by a person who called himself Brown to the best of my memory.
            Q. What time o'night was it?
            Church. When these fellows light of me, it was not about half an hour after eight.
            Q. What did Brown say to you?
            Church. I don't know that he said any thing, unless that it was a fine evening. I did not much like him, and I walked the breadth of the table from the path, because I did not like him. In about a minute and an half, or two minutes time, I heard somebody running, and saw two persons running towards me. When they came up to me, I believe I could have thrown a stone to the bottom of Buckingham green-house.
            Q. Who were the persons that were running?
            Church. The two Prisoners were both running, I think I can be sure to both of them, but I am sure Ruggles was one; and I could sweaar to the other, but I don't choose it. There were three of them came up to me; they never said, Stand, and deliver; but one of them, which I take to be Shaddows, stooped, and took hold of my two legs, and threw me down.
            Q. What did Ruggles do?
            Church. I will not be positive what he did, but they threw me down upon my back, and beat me in a most violent manner.
          Q. Did they make use of sticks, or their fists?
          Church. They made use of nothing but their fists, and I found them heavy enough, for they beat me so, that there was not such a spectacle seen: I had not an eye to see out of; nor could I open my mouth to take in my victuals: and one of them choked me: I can't be positive who it was, but I think it was Ruggles. Then they laid hold of my side-pockets, and tore them off. After they [p.47] had done that, they fell backwaqrds, but did not fall quite to the ground. The man that was choking me, took my stock and stock-buckle off, and ran away to the rest; they took a silver watch from me, and two shillings and two-pence halfpeny, which I had in my pocket,a nd went directly to Hide-park-corner – I have not had my watch, or any thing again.
          Shaddows. Do you know what day of the week it was?
          Church. Yes, I do; it was on a Monday.
          Shaddows. What time o'night was it?
          Church. I have told that already.
          Shaddows. Do you know any thing of me?
          Church. Only what I have said.
          Rowling Brown. [an accomplice who turned King's Evidence] The two Prisoners and I met Mr. Church, not where he says, by Constitution-hill, but in the park; he was sitting upon a bench in the park, and I sat down by him, and falling into conversation, he said it was pleasanter walking than sitting, and asked if I would not take a walk. We walked in the middle of the park till we came to Buckingham wall, pretty near the ice-house, and then he began to meddle with me, and pulled out what he had, and put it into my hand, and wanted to feel what I had. I said, I believed there was a Molly. Shaddows and Ruggles came up, and we took him to the guard; he can't deny it, if he tells the truth; but I believe he was ashamed of it. We asked for his money, but he would not give it us; and so thinking he would be ashamed of the thing, we took his watch and money from him – we knew it was an ill thing; but we thought we had better take the watch and money, than expose him.
          Q. What did you go there for?
          Brown. I did not go there for that purpose as some people go – we go to see who is there, and if we meet with any of these sort of people, if they have any money we take it from them.
          Church. I have received a threatening letter from them.
          Brown. You said you had received a threatening letter, but you said you believed it was from Jews.
          Q. If he offered such a thing as that to you, are you to rob him?
          Church. Ask him if he knows whether I am a girl or a boy?
          Brown. Yes, I do: for you put what you had into my hand: I think I should know.
          Church. Do you know what I am?
          Brown. I believe I know very well, and if you were to be searched, I could prove that I do.
          Q. What you advertised your watch, why did not you advertise where you lost it; for you advertised it to be lost in Germain-street.
          Church. I culd have had half the parish of St Giles's to my character.
          Brown. He told me he was a joiner, and lived at Westminster.
          Church. You are such a rogue and a liar, that no body will believe you. He has made himself an evidence, I did not call him for a witness.
          One of the Jury said he had known Mr. Church three years, and that he was a man of a good character.
          Q. Are you sure Shaddows took you by the legs?
          Church. I don't chuse to swear to it.
          Q. You have sworn to Ruggles; can you swear that Shaddows is the man?
          Church. I believe as much one as the other, but I thought one was sufficient, so I would not swear to both. I verily believe he is the man.   Guilty,   Death. [p.48]

Trial of James Ruggles, John Smith and Thomas Cheworth

93, 94, 95.   James Ruggles, John Smith and Thomas Cheworth, were indicted for assaulting a certain man, to the Jurors unknown, in St. James's park, and taking from him a gold repeating watch, value 20 l. a gold chain, value 2 l. and two seals set in gold, value 20 s. the property of the said man, to the Jurors unknown, April 10.
          Rowling Brown. About the 8th or 9th of April last, or thereabouts, Tho. Cheworth, James Ruggles, John Smith, and my self, (we all belong to one company) were walking in St James's park between nine and two o'clock at night; Cheworth was got along with a Gentleman, and they took a walk into the Middle Park, upon the grass, by the corner of Buckingham-house, Ruggles, Smith, and I followed them, (they were together for the space of two or three minutes, we knew what they were doing). Cheworth said the Gentleman had hold of him by what he had; we asked him what he meant by doing so, and we took from him a gold repeating watch, with a chain and two seals, five pence halfppenny in money, and three iron keys; I carried them home to my house, and kept the watch a day or two till it was advertised. Mr. Pepys, at the Crown and Sceptre in Fleetstreet, advertised it, with twenty guineas reward, and no questions asked. My wife and I went and received the twenty guineas for the watch: Cheworth was sent to the Savoy, and ordered to go to Flanders; I found neither Ruggles nor Smith knew any thing of writing or reading, so as I ran the risque of carrying the watch, I saved [p.48] eight guineas for my self, and divided the rest of the money. Smith, Ruggles, and I had three guineas and an half apiece: Cheworth had one guinea; he was to have had half a guinea more, but I said my wife should have that for her trouble.
          There being no other evidence but the accomplices, the prisoners were Acquitted. [p.49]

Trial of James Ruggles and John Smith

96, 97.   James Ruggles, and John Smith, were indicted for assaulting a certain man, to the Jurors unknown, in St. James's pari, and taking from him a gold watch, value 10 l. the property of the said man, to the Jurors unknown, August the 1st.
          Rowling Brown. I don't know any thing of this robbery, any otherwise than the prisoners told me that they robbed a man of his watch in the middle of the park by the grove. Ruggles and I sold the watch to one Samuel Moses; I bought Smith's share of him for about 3 l. We sold Mr. Church's watch to this Samuel Moses. –. Acquitted.

Trial of John Smith, Christopher Jackson, and Robert Pinker

98, 99, 100.   John Smith, Christopher Jackson, and Robert Pinker, were indicted for assaulting a person unknown, in St. James's park, and taking from him a pair of silver shoe buckles, vaue 6s. a pair of knee buckles, value 3 s. and a stock buckle, value 12 d. a hat, value 2 s. and a perriwig, value 2 s. the property of the said person unknown, Sept. 1.
          Rowling Brown. Some time in September I met a person (I don't know but he might be a Valet, or an Officer in a Marching Regiment) about ten o'clock at night; as we were talking togerther we fell into discourse; he touched me two or three times upon the arm, and I went with him into the grove in the middle of the park by the deer, and then he offered to do in the same manner as the others had done before; then John Smith came up, and we took his shoe buckles, knee buckles, and stock buckle; Pinker and Jackson took his hat and wig.
          Jury. How was you dressed at that time?
          Brown. I don't know but I might be dressed as I am now, or in a light coloured coat, or a blue grey coat.
          Jury. You never had any women's cloaths on, had you?
          Brown. No, I never had.   Acquitted.

Trial of Daniel Doe

101.   Daniel Doe, of St.Margaret's, Westminster, was indicted for stealing a silver watch, value 21 s. the property of John Meakins, privately from hus person. June the 7th, 1743.
          John Meakins. I lost my watch in the prisoner's room; I was with Rowling Brown and the prisoner. – I think I had it when I went into the room; I missed my watch in the room, and told Rowling Brown directly that he had it; he produced it in October last. – I took the prisoner to be a very honest man both before and since.
          John Child. On the 17th of October, Rowling Brown brought a watch to me, and pawned it for a guinea.
          Brown. On the 7th of June, Meakins helped me home with some cloaths which I had made for the company: he was very drunk, and laid himself down; I took hold of the ribbon of his watch,and pulled it out; Doe desired I would not keep it; I said he was drunk, and I would keep it, he should never had it any more: I put it into a tub of flour. Meakins enquired for his watch, and Doe and I said we did not know any thing of it. I pawned it for a guinea, (it came in very good time, for my wife lay in) and gave the prisoner ten shillings. I was taken up for it, and was obliged to give my information against the prisoner.
          Q. So you would hang the prisoner for your stealing the watch, and giving him ten shillings?
          Brown. I would not have him hanged; I only speak the truth, for indeed I took it.   Acquitted. [p.49]


The Trials being ended the Court proceeded to give Judgment as follows.

Received sentence of Death, 21.
. . . James Ruggles
. . . David Shaddows . . .

Robert Carter, James Ruggles, David Shaddows, are Reprieved in order for Transportation. [p.60]

SOURCE: The Proceedings on the King's Commissions of the Peace, Oyer and Terminer, and Goal Delivery for the City of London; and also the Goal Delivery for the County of Middlesex, held at Justice-Hall in the Old-Bailey, on Wednesday the 5th, Thursday the 6th, Friday the 7th, Saturday and 8th, and Monday the 10th of December. Printed, and sold by M. Cooper, at the Globe in Pater-noster Row, 1744.

The Ordinary's Account

. . . On Wednesday the 19th of December, Report was made to his Majesty in Council, of the Twenty-one Malefactors under Sentence, lying in the Cells of Newgate, when David Saddow [sic] and James Ruggles, two Soldiers in the first Regiments of Guards, for a Robbery in St. James's-Park, behind Buckingham-House, and Robert Carter, for robbing Mr. Welldy of 4 Shillings and some Half-pence, received his Majesty's most gracious Reprieve for Transportation for fourteen Years. . . . [p.3]


The following Account of the Soldiers (although Repriev'd) we hope will be acceptable to our Readers.
          THE Account we are now about to give respects a Sett of Malefactors, who not content with the Crime of Robbery, have thought fit to add thereto the most heinous Offence of Sodomy, which brought down Fire from Heaven; and, as if this had not been enough, they made that very monstrous Crime a Handle and Snare to draw Gentlemen in, which were inclined to that unnatural Sin. Every one will acknowledge this was no more than they deserved, and indeed, had it been yet more severe, provided it had made them take Warning, no Mortal living would have pitied them, but on the contrary, would have rejoyced thereat; but, as there are little Hopes, they who have gone so far, will stop there, we must wish, for our common Safety, and avert the visible impending Judgments of Heaven, that every one of them, of what Rank soever, were brought to condign Punishment: in the mean while, all we can do, is to expose their villainous Practices, that in case the hand of God does not deter them for the future, the fear of the Gallows, at least may, and bring them to Repentence.
          OF that abominable Sett, the better Sort, (if indeed they better can be of such a Crew) have found the way to escape both Shame and Chastisement, by commuting with their Purses for the safety of their Persons; and as for the latter, who were all Soldiers, they escaped what was due to their Deserts, by being concerned with their Superiors; so true in this our righteous Age, that Wickedness in high Places is sure to go unpunished. Not to enlarge any farther upon this Head, we shall proceed to lay open to the World, this black Scene of Iniquity, not knowing which most to be astonished at, the Wickedness and Infatuation of the Gentlemen so drawn in, on one side, or the consummate Impudence and Villainy of those Decoy Ducks the Soldiers on the other. Proceed we then, to give the best Account we have been able to obtain, of the several Enormities whereof they have been guilty, and of which they must have received their due Reward, had they not been so effectually skreen'd by their Accomplices of the better Sort. But, though they have hitherto escaped corporal Punishment, at last, in this World, we will do our Endeavour they shall not go wholly Scot-free, but expose both them and their vile Practices to the Public, to deter all others, who are not so thoroughly case-harden'd, from pursuing the like Courses. And thus, we hope, will be admitted as a sufficient Reason for giving the following Account of them, though they had Interest enough with those in Power to obtain a Reprieve, which may possibly be followed by a Pardon.
          IT is a certain Truth, the longer we go on in evil Ways, the worse we grow; and that, if we begin pilfering with a Penny, we shall undoubtedly end with Pounds, unless the Hempen Neckcloth prevents us; and this is very apparent from the Confession of one of these abandoned Wretches, who gave the following Account of himself, namely, That the first Fact he committed was on the 7th of June, 1743, together with D—l D— [Daniel Doe], belonging to the same Company. One of them in seems being a Taylor by Trade, was employed to make Waistcoats for the rest, and having just finished one Parcel, got Thomas Meakins (another Soldier) to assist in carrying them home to the House of the before-mentioned D[oe]. Being come thither, poor Meakins, little suspecting any Danger, and being in Liquor, and tired into the Bargain, flung [p.11] them down, and laid himself upon them to take a Nap. As he thus lay, buried in Sleep, his Companion observing the String of his Watch hang out, cry'd to D[anie]l D[oe], It is a fine Opportunity, shall we take his Watch? No, answered D—, he will know he lost it here, and then we shall come into Trouble. Damn him, said the other, he is dead drunk, and will not know any Thing of the Matter. Upon which he called out to Meakins, in a loud Voice, What are you asleep? and receiving no Answer, he took hold of the String, and drew the Watch out of his Pocket, which he afterwards pawned for 20s. ten whereof he kept himself, and gave the Remainder to D[anie]l D[oe].
          WHETHER his Success on this Occasion was an Inducement to him to continue the Practice, we cannot say, but we find him afterwards going on in the same wicked Course, without any Scruple of Remorse, and this with the heinous Aggravation of making the detestable Sin of Sodomy a Handle for the Accomplishment of his profligate Designs. Accordingly the next Robbery wherein he appears to have been concerned, was in Company with James Ruggles J— S— and T— C— [John Smith and Thomas Cheworth], at the Beginning of last April, about the Hour of Ten at Night.
          THESE four Brethren in Iniquity, as well as Brothers in Calling, (being all Soldiers) were then sauntring about the Park, in quest of somebody fit for their abandon'd Purpose, when C[heworth] fixed his Eye upon a Gentleman whom he judg'd, and, as it prov'd, rightly, to be inclined to that horrid and unnatural Vice. Upon this, he went up to him, and accosted him in a Dialect, it is to be supposed, peculiar to that Sett of Monsters, which, it seems was so agreeable to the Gentleman, that not considering the Hazard he ran in this World, by putting his Life in the Power of such a Miscreant, nor yet the Enormity of the Crime he was about to perpetrate, he soon agreed to withdraw with him to the Side of Buckingham Wallk in the Green Park, as a Place proper for their abominable Practice, little suspecting the Snare that was laid for him.
          IN effect, not long after the Gentleman and his new Acquaintance had arrived at the Spot designed for the perpetration of their Villainy, Ruggles and S[mith], with the third Soldier, who had observed all their Motions, and followed them at a Distance, made up to them, just as they seem'd to be so busily engaged, that there was no Room to deny their Wickedness, and sternly demanded, What they were about, and what Business they had there. The Gentleman, who it may easiy be imagined, was greatly confounded at the Danger wherein he had involv'd himself, by being surpriz'd in such a Fact, could think of no better Excuse, than that the young Man, meaning C[heworth], had brought him thither; as if that would have been in his Power, had not he been himself so detestably inclined: Be that as it will, C[heworth], who acted his Part to the Life, retorted the Charge upon the Gentleman, and accused him of seducing him thither, adding, he believed it was with Intent to [sodomise] him. Hereupon, the three Soldiers began to abuse the Gentleman excessively, damning him, and calling him a hundred Mollying Rascals, and swearing he ought to have his Brains dashed out, with abundance of more scurrilous Language to the same Purpose, which they likewise accompanied with great Rudenss and ill Usage.
          THE Gentleman finding he was got into bad Hands, desired them to be civil, and not treat him ill, and he would give them all the Money he had about him, as he acordingy did, but it amountd only to Five-pence Half-penny. It will easily be believed, so small a Sum was far from satisfying these abandoned Villains, whose sole Design was to make a Property of him. They told him therefore, he should not come off so, for unless he produced more, they would carry him directly to the Guard-room, and give an Account of his vile Actions; accordingly, they proceeded [p.12] forthwith to search him, without any farther Ceremony, but found he had indeed produced his all, for he had no more. On searching him, however narrowly, they found a Gold Repeating Watch, upon which they laid Hands, Damning his Blood, and telling him, they supposed he designed to have kept that from them, but they should make Bold with it; adding, he might be glad he escaped so easily, for he deserved to have his Brains dash'd out against the Wall. In Effect, the Gentleman finding all Resistance would be in vain, was forced to submit with a little struggling, and suffer them to go off with their Prey, which they did accordingly.
          BUT tho' they had easily got such a Booty, they were not much the better for it, for sometime not knowing what to do therewith, and not daring to offer out to pawn or Sale, for fear of being stopt, wherefore it was agreed, that one of them should keep it in his Custody, till it could be some Way disposed of. He rejoyced therefore greatly, when some Days after, he found it was advertised, with a Reward of Twenty Guineas, and no Questions to be asked, upon carrying it to a Watch-Maker's in Fleet-street. Accordingly, not knowing better what to do with it, he sent his Wife therewith, whilst he staid himself behind at a little Distance.
          IT seems in struggling to get the Watch from the Gentleman, one of the Seals was broken off, which the Soldier before-mentioned intended to have kept to himself, imagining the Reward would have been paid without it; but when the Woman carried the Watch to Mr. ***, he told her, he knew that to be the Watch, and could swear to it, for he had made it, and he set it a Repeating immediately; but he added, there was a Seal wanting, for which the Gentleman had a great Value, and he durst not pay the whole 'Reward unless that was produced likewise, but wuld give her Ten Guineas, if that would satisfy her. The Woman answered, there was all she found with the Watch, and she expected the full Reward; adding, that her Husband was near at Hand, and she would fetch him, and if he was willing to take that, she should not object against it.
          HEREUPON she stept to him, and acquainted him with what the Gentleman said, wherefore he went himself, desiring to know why he would not pay the Reward, since it was the same Watch that had been advertised, and there was every Thing that was found wth it. Mr. *** answered, he did not refuse paying the whole Reward, provided the other Seal was brought, but durst not do it otherwise, till he had seen the Owner, who valued that particular Seal very muchly, and whom he expected to see next Day; that he would then acquaint him wituh this Circumstance, and if he agreed to it, he wuld pay the Remainder, and in the mean while he would give him ten Guineas directly.
          THE Soldier expostulated with the Gentleman soemtime longer, telling him, he insisted upon the whole, or the Watch again; but finding he would not part with ahy more, till he had seen the Proprietor of the Watch, at last he pulled the other Seal out of his Pocket, and asked if that was it; being answered it was, he said he hoped then he should have the full Reward, to which Mr ***** immediately agreed without farther Words, offering him a Bank Note for that Sum, which he declined taking, and desired to have it in Gold, which was comply'd with directly.
          AFTER receiving the Money, he expressed a great Desire to see the Gentleman himself, even tho' he were to have had no Reward, and gave Mr. ******* three small Keys, which he said belonged to the same Person, and begging he would acquaint himm with his wanting to speak with him, (which was promised) and he would call again to know his Answer: But he said this only for a Blind, that so Mr. ******* might not suspect the villainous Method by which he had acquired it, for he never intended to trouble him any more. [p.13]
          AS soon as he had got Possession of his Booty, and was arrived at home, he consulted with his Wife, whether he had not better sink some of it upon his Companions, since they could neither Write or Read, and might, therefore, very probably, never know what he received. The Result of this Consultation was, that he should keep eight Guineas to himself, and share only the remaining twelve with his Comrades; accordingly he carried it to James Ruggles and John [Smith], telling them the Watch had been advertised, and he had received that Sum for it: Whereupon they honestly agreed between them, as C[heworth] was then in the Savoy, to share 3 Guineas and a half a Man, give half a Guineaa to the Soldier's Wife, and the remaining Guinea to C[heworth], with which, however, he was very well contented, as he was then just going Abroad.
          ANOTHER Night Thomas [Cheworth] being alone in the Park, and having singled out a Person whom he thought fit for his Purpose, according to his wonted Custom in the Evening, accosted him in the usual Dialect, and soon struck up a Bargain with him, to which he was but too readily inclin'd. They agreed then to withdraw to a Place convenient for their wicked Purpose, which was in the Middle-Park, where being arrived, and C[heworth] observing a proper Opportunity, snatched his Silver Watch out of his Pocket, and scowr'd off therewith immediately; the Gentleman calling after him to stop, but in vain. With this Booty he came directly to the House of his old Comrade, the Taylor [i.e. Brown] before-mentioned, who made the Company Waistcoats, and desired him to pawn it.
          THE other answered, it was a large old-fashioned Watch, and would not fetch much. Upon which C[heworth] said, Damn it, what can I do with it, I don't know; nor I neither, reply'd the other. At last C[heworth] cried, you may as well buy it, you can tell better how to dispose of it than I. Whereupon the Taylor asked, what he would have for it? C[heworth] answered, a Guinea. His Comrade answered, with a Smile, that is more than I can pledge it for to any one: Besides, supposed I could pawn it for so much, what should I get by that? He told him, however, if he approved of it, he would give him 15s. for it, at a venture. To which C[heworth] agreeing, he paid the Money, and keeping it afterwards for some time till he could meet with a Purchaser to his Mind, sold it for 2l 2s. 6d.
          AFTER this hopeful Prank, T[homas] C[heworth] and James Ruggles, being out together in the Park, (the usual Place of Rendezvous, it seems, for such Gentry) and looking out sharp for their Prey, C[heworth], who was generally the Decoy-Duck on these Occasions, having fixed upon a Gentleman for his Purpose, went up to him, and accosted him in the usual Terms. His Company, as it appeared, was not disagreeable to his new Acquaintance; for they soon agreed to take a Walk together to the Back-Side of the Library in the Middle-Park, where they immediately proceeded to the detestable Business for which they had retir'd thither.
          IN the mean while James Ruggles, who had followed them at a Distance, and waited only till he saw them closely engaged, came up to them, and seizing upon the Gentleman, cry'd, Damn your Blood you Dog, what are you a Mollying one another? Give me what you have this Minute, or I will carry you directly to the Guard-Room. The Gentleman, confounded and frightened almost out of his Wits, made answer, he did not come along with the young Man for any Harm, and desired Ruggles not to use him ill; but C[heworth] soon silenced him, by crying out, indeed he seduced me hither to Molly me. Hereupon Ruggles immediately said, Damn you, you Dog, let me have what you have got this Instant; and running his Hand directly into his Fob and Pockets, took out his Watch therewith and made off. [p.14]
          HAVING thus possessed themselves of these unrighteous Gains, they next consulted how to dispose of the Watch, and C[heworth] offer'd Ruggles to let him have it for 16s. Ruggles agreeing to give him 15s. 6d. the Bargain was soon struck, though when he had got Possession of it, he was forced to keep it for sometime not knowing well what to do with it. At last, bethinking himself that his Fellow-Soldier and old Comrade, R[owling] B[rown] the Taylor, used sometimes to buy such Things, he carried it to him, and asked if he would purchase it; he confsented thereto readily, provided they could agree, and asked what he demanded for it? He answered, Two Guineas and a Half. Two Guineas and a Half! crys the Taylor, that is more than I could sell it for, if it was my own, and I would not give above half the Money/ whereupon Ruggles asked what was the most he would offer, and B[rown] aswered a Guinea and a Half; he replied, he would keep it for ever first; upon which they parted for that Time.
          A little while after, however, he came again to B[rown], and repeated the Question, what was the most he would give for the Watch? To which the other answered, he could not afford to bid much more, if he proposed to get any Thing by it; Ruggles replied, he would not take that, but if he would give Two Guineas, it should be a Bargain. B[rown] then bid a Crown more, but Ruggles would not take it, upon which he advanced to Two Pounds, which Sum the other likewise refused; at last he told him, unless he would give him Sixppence out of the two guineas, he would have nothing to do with it. To this Ruggles readily agreed, and the Money was paid down; whereupn B[rown] kept the Watch about two Months, and then disposed of it to one Serjeant F—, of the First Regiment of Foot-Guards, for Four Pounds.
          NOT long after this, Tom C[heworth], James Ruggles, John S[mith], and R[owling] B[rown], being altogether at their accustomed Rendezvous, the Park, and about the usual Hour, namely, between nine and ten at Night, C[heworth] having fixed his Eyes upon one S—n, a Glover, as they found afterwards, addressed him in his wonted Manner, and having soon struck up a Bargain, decoyed him to the Back Side of Buckingham Wall, near the Ice-House, whither his villainous Companions followed them at a Distance.
          THEY had not been long tere, before they began to be very busy together; upon which the others immediately ran up to them, and seizing the Glover by the Collar, demanded what they were about, swearing bitterly at the same Time, unless he would give 'em all he had about him, they would carry him directly to the Guard-Room. He was not, however, so easily frightened out of his Money as their former Bubbles, for he refused to comply with their Demands, and told them, he would sooner choose to go to the Guard, for he had done no Harm, having only come thither innocently with that young Man, meaning C[heworth]. When they found him so willing to go to the Guard, they refused to give him that Liberty, and insisted upon taking what he had about him; accordingly, running their Hands into his Pockets, they pulled out a Purse, wherein C[heworth] pretended there was but 14s. though they afterwards heard there was more, but they could never find how much: and this done, they went to B[rown]'s House, where they divided the Spoil.
          SOME Time afer this, S[mith], Ruggles, and B[rown], happened to meet the same Person in their usual Walks in the Parki, and S[mith] accosted him in the ordinary Dialect of those Gentry. One wou'd have thought the ill treatment he had met with not long before, should have made him take Warning, and be very cautious what new Acquaintance he engaged with; but so strongly was he addicted to this abominable and unnatural Vice, [p.15] that, not knowing S[mith] was one of those who had robbed him before, he readily agreed to go along with him to the same Place, where he had been with C[heworth]. We believe, therefore, but few will pity him, when they see him fall, a second Time, into the same Snare, as he accordingly did in a few Minutes: For James Ruggles and R[owling] B[rown], who were upon the Watch, and had followed them at a Distance, as usual, no sooner perceived them very busy together, than they rushed upon them, (S[mith], who saw them coming, seizing at the same Time on the Glover with one Hand) and asked them, with two or three Damns, Whether they were Mollying of each other.
          HEREUPON S[mith], who knew his Cue, and had his Lesson very perfect, cry'd out, Pray, Gentlemen, be civil; I confess, he wanted indeed to ruin me, but I would not comply with his wicked Desires, and therefore I caught him fast by the Arm, and held him so, that he could not escape. Aye, aye, hold the Dog, said his hopeful Associates, and bring him to the Guard-Room, unless he will give you all he has about him. Whether in so doing, S[mith] might have hurt him terribly or not, which is far from unlikely, we can't say, but he called out, Murder! Murder! as loud as he could several times, though to little Purpose, nobody coming to his Rescue. The lawless Villains not regarding his Outcries, or troubling themselves whether they hurt him or not, told him, Damn you, you Dog, we don't value your bawling out, had you twenty of your Mollying Rascals about you, they should not save you; which said, they immediately proceeded to lay him under Contribution, running their Hands into his Breeches, and taking all the Money he had.
          NEITHER did this satisfy them, for they examined likewise the Contents of his Coat and Waistcoat, wherein, however, they met with no great Booty, finding only a Pocket-Book, in which were divers Notes and Bills, giving an Account of his Name, Habitation, and Business, which was of no manner of Service to them. Not knowing, therefore, what to do with it, R[owling] B[rown], after keeping it some Time, sent his Wife therewith to the Glover's House, believing it might be of Use to him, and, perhaps, expecting some small Reward for restoring it: But the Man happening not to be at home, she brought it back again, though the Servant who answered her, and had asked her Business, which she told him, desired her to leave it; so he received no Benefit from B[rown]'s good Intentions, which was the more the Pity, because, we are afraid, he was not often troubled with them; for, telling his Wife, he would run no further Hazards about it, he immediately threw the Notes into the Fire, and kept the Book for his own Use.
          SOME Time after this Exploit, B[rown] and C[heworth] being at their wonted Rendezvous, the Park, about ten at Night, and as was before observed, like their old Master the Devil, seeking whom they might devour, the latter accosted a Gentleman, whom he judged fit for his Purpose, (wherein, as has been seen, by whatever Marks he knew them, he was never deceived) and after some other customary Discourse upon that Head, asked whether they should take a Walk together; the usual Phrase, it seems, among such Gentry, for entering into close Conversation. The Gentleman, who undoubtedly had received Intimation of the many Robberies committed by this audacious and abandoned Gang, in that Neighbourhood, asked, whither they should go? and upon C[heworth]'s answering, the best Place he knew for their Purpose, was the back Side of Buckingham Wall, in the Green Park. He answered, No, I will not go thither, for there are always a Knot of Villains upon the Watch, to make a Property of such as we. [p.16]
          HEREUPON C[hewort]h (being resolved his Prey should not escape him, if he could possibly prevent it) said, Whither will you go, do you think we can be safer any where else? The Gentleman answer'd, Yes, come along with me. This said, they went out at the Stable-yuard, till they arrived at a long unfrequented Passage that leads into St. James's-street, whither B[row]n followed them as usual. They stopt just under an Arch-Way in this Passage, and being willing to loose no Time, were very busily engaged before B[row]n could get up to them: C[hewort]h, who was upon the Watch expecting him, no sooner saw him approach, than he seized his new Acquaintance fast by the Collar, and there held him. B[row]n then came up, and said with a stern Voice, Damn you, you Dogs, have I caught you at last? Give me what you have directly, or I will take you to the Watch. The Gentleman being unwilling to go to the Watch, and equally unwilling to part with his Money, struggled hard to prevent B[row]n putting his Hands into his Pockets: In doing which, he was over-power'd, and they took from about 5l.
          NOT long after this Complication of Villainy, C[hewort]h went by himself into the Park to look for Prey, and fixing his Eye upon a Gentleman whom he judg'd suitable for his Purpose, and whom he believes to have been a Foreigner, accosted him in the ordinary Dialect, and soon prevailed on him to withdraw into the Middle Park. Being arrived at one of the most private Places, the Gentleman offered to proceed to such a Sort of Conversation as had induced him to retire thither; but C[hewort]h, who had other Designs in his Head, not only refused to comply, but violently seized hold of him, and with a stern Voice said, Damn your Blood, you Dog, now I have you, and unless you immediately deliver your Watch, and what Money you have about you, I will drag you to the Guard-Room directly.
          THE other refused complying with this Demand, but to little Purpose; for C[heworth] having him at a great Disadvantage, held him fast with one Hand, whilst he searched all his Pockets with the other, and took out from thence 18s. in Money, a silver Watch, and a Snuff-box of the same; this done, he left the poor Foreigner to bemoan his ragged Fortune, and went directly with the Spoil to R[owling] B[rown], whom he acquainted with the way he got it, and consulted how he should dispose thereof. B[rown] answered, it was nothing to him, they were his, and he might do as he pleased with them. C[heworth] reply'd, he knew not how to dispose of them, wherefore if he (B[row]n) had a mind for them, he would sell them to him, for he believed he knew best what to do with them. He then ask'd him what he demanded for them; if you like the Snuff-box says the other, at 10s. it is yours; he offer'd 9s. and the other taking him at his word deliver'd the Box, which he sold aftrer keeping it sometime to a Silver-smith in the Strand for 14s.
          THE very Night that C[heworth] committed the Robbery beforementioned, one Corporal S—, who belonged to the same Company, but was upon Windsor Party, came to Town on purpose to send some Money down to his Wife by another Corporal, who was going to St. Edmund's-Bury, where she lives: Just after he was gone from B[rown]'s, in comes C[hewort]h, with his Booty, and being told, that Corporal S— had been there, ask'd where he was gone, and was answer'd, they did not know, but expected him to return soon, as accordingly he did. C[heworth] express'd himself that he was glad to see him, and ask'd, if he would go and take part of a Pot, to which he readily agreed. In their way to the Alehouse, they pass'd by an Oyster-stall, whereupon, C[heworth] ask'd S—, If he would have any Oysters? The latter agreeing, to this also, he treated him with Four-penny worth; and while they were eating them, the Foreigner, whom C[heworth] had [p.17] robb'd, came by and saw him; but not thinking it safe to apprehend him without Help, went on to a Watchman, and desired his Assistance to take him. Accordingly the Watchman came with him; but when they came to the Oyster-stall, he was just gone; upon which, the Gentleman ask'd which Way he went, and they answer'd towards Hyde-Park-Corner.
          THEY made haste therefore after him, and had not gone many Doors further, before the Gentleman saw C[hewort]h in a Publick House, drinking with his Companion; and as he could discern every Thing that passed, by the Light of the Candles thro' the Window, he obser'd him winding up the very Watch, and pulling out the very Box he had taken from him. Hereupon he told the Watchman they were the same Things he had been robbed of, and desired he would go in and apprehend him; but the Fellow answered, There were two of them, wherefore he durst not venture in alone. Upon which they went to get another to assist them, and when they returned backk, the Birds were flown.
          THAT same Night, after this Disappointment, the poor Foreigner going along Piccadilly, saw another Soldier, whom he mistook for the Person that had robbed him, and accordingly charged him with the Fact; upon which he was taken up and carried to St. James's Watch-house, where he was kept all Night. Next Morning the Soldier sent for his Landlady, who gave him the Character of a very innocent inoffensive Man; adding, that he had not been out of her House at the Time the Gentleman said he was robbed.
          HE sent therefore to the Place where he had seen C[hewort]h drinking the Night before, to ask the Mistress of the House, If she shold know the Soldier that was there last Night, in Company with a Corporal? And upon her answering, She believed she should, were she to see him again, she was desired to step and view him who was in Custody, which she did, and as soon as she set Eyes on him, declared, He was not the Person; for the Man who was at her House, was a tall, clean-looking Fellow, with a Blue Grey Coat, a Red Waistcoat, and a Pair of Buckskin Breeches; besides which he had Reddish Hair, so that she should know him from a Thousand. Upon this her Evidence, and the Character given of him by hiw own Landlady, the poor Fellow was discharged, adn the Foreigner was forced to sit down contentedly with his Loss.
          SOME Time after this, Ruggles and S[mith] being in the Park, they met a Gentleman agreeable to their Mind, whom they accosted as usual, and proposed a Walk to him, to which he readily agreed; whereupon they withdrew to the Side of the Reservoir, in the Green Park, whither Ruggles dogg'd them, and when they were cose engaged, ran up. S[mit]h seeing Ruggles at Hand, fastens directly upon him, and crys out, I have got a Molly; and Ruggles coming to his Assistance said, Aha, you Mollying Dog, have I caught you, you shall pay for this Pastime. The Gentleman begged they would not use him ill; upon which they answered, Damn your Blood, you Dog, what have you got about you? And without further Ceremony rifled him of all his Money, a Gold Watch, and 2 Seals set in Gold, as also an enamel'd Ring with the Name of Richard Perkins thereon.
          SOME short Time after, they all went out again upon the old Lay, and pick'd up another Bubble in the Park, whom one of them asked to take a Walk, whilst the rest followed at a Distance, and coming up at a Time they judged convenient, they furiously catch'd the Man by the Collar, and cryi'd, Damn your Blood, what are you Mollying each other? Whereupon he said, For God's Sake, Gentlemen, don't use me ill, for I am but a poor Man. Whereto they answered, Damn your Blood, don't hink to come upon this Lay without Money in your Pocket; and immediately fell to searching him, and took from him an old Bag, with 4l. 10s. in Silver, and one Guinea therein, as also 3 Gold Rings, and then left him, [p.18] C[hewort]h, S[haddo]w, and S[mit]h, going one Way, and Ruggles and B[row]n, with the Bag, another.
          THE two last being thus by themselves, and in the Possession of the Booty, says B[row]n to Ruggles, Let us open the Bag, and see what we have got. This he readily agreed to, and on so doing the last told 15s. (as he thought) under a Lamp: Whereupon B[row]n, who had observed one Piece, which he took for a Guinea (as it really was) cry'd to him, I will take this Shilling, (laying hold thereon) and do you keep another. No, says Ruggles, give me that Shilling, and here is half a Crown, which we will sink between us, and that is better. Upon which B[rown], slipping his Hand into his Pocket, took out another Shilling and gave him, by which Means he got the Guinea to himself. They proceeded then to a Publick House near St. James's, where they all met by Appointment, and divided the rest of the Money.
          AFTER this, James Ruggles, D[avi]d S[haddo]w, and R[owling] B[row]n, went out together into the Park, as usual, and there picks up one William Church, a Joyner, and after some short Discourse retired with him to the Place where they commonly went on such Occasions, and were soon close engaged. Hereupon Ruggles and S[haddo]w ran up, and cry'd out, with an Oath or two, You Mollying Dogs, what are you about? To which the Joyner, as if mighty Innocent, made Answer, Nothing, Gentlemen; only this Villain, (meaning B[row]n) brought me hither, and I thought no Harm: With that, Damn your Blood, you Dog, reply'd they, had you not been that Way given, you had not come with him; which indeed was true. They proceeded then to rummage him of his Money and a Silver Watch, which they sold some Time after to one Solomon Moses, a Jew, (as they did that they had so taken before) for 9l. 11s. 6d. and for this Fact S[haddo]w and Ruggles were apprehended, try'd, and condemn'd, but afterwards Repriev'd.
          THEY were taken in the following Manner, viz. James Ruggles, J[oh]n S[mit]h, T[homa]s C[hewort]h, and R[ober]t P[inke]r, being out one Night upon the same detestable Lay, and getting in Liquor, picked a Quarrel with some Chairmen, near St. James's, and broke their Chair Glasses, whereupon the Chairmen charged them with the Guard then upon Duty, and they were all sent to the Savoy. [p.19]

SOURCE: The Ordinary of Newgate, His Account of the Behaviour, Confession, and Dying Words of the Malefactors Who were Executed at Tyburn on Monday the 24th of December, 1744. London: Printed and Sold by John Appelbee in Bolt-Court, near the Leg-Tavern, Fleet-street, M.DCC.XLIV.

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