|Crime and Punishment: Jack Addison|
by Bill McCann
London’s streets have always been crime-ridden. This series presents the tales of some of the individuals convicted of crimes, small and great, at the Middlesex and London assizes, Star Chamber, Court of Aldermen, etc. and their subsequent fate. Tyburn and Newgate are words that are resonant with the extremes of punishment in the 18th and 19th centuries and, naturally, both loom large in the series. However, there will also be articles on some of the more famous crimes in London’s more recent history.
Crime and Punishment: Jack Addison
by Bill McCann
Committed fifty-six Highway Robberies, and was executed at Tyburn in March, 1711.
This fellow was born in the parish of Lambeth, and for some time had been in the sea and land service, but for the most part of his life followed the trade of a butcher. He kept company much with ill women, especially one Kate Speed, and for the maintenance of her he went upon the footpad, committing several most notorious robberies of that nature with William Jewel and Peter Cartwright, the latter of whom was hanged at Tyburn, on Wednesday, the 18th of July, 1711.
One time, meeting with a parson between Westbourne Green and Paddington, he took from him five guineas, which putting into his own pocket, quoth Jack:
“Tis as safe there as in yours.”
“That I believe”, replied the parson,
“but I hope, sir, you’ll be so civil as to give me some of it back again”.
Said Jack then:
“Alas, sir, I wonder how a man in your coat can be so unconscionable as to desire anything out of this small matter; but I tell you what, sir; if you can tell me what part of speech your gold is, I’ll return it all again.”
The parson, thinking the money was his own again, told him it was a noun substantive, as anything was to which he could put ” a ” or ” the.”
“No, no”, replied Jack,
“you are out now; I perceive you are no good grammarian, for where your gold is at present it is a noun adjective, because it can be neither seen, felt, heard nor understood”.
So, leaving the parson to ruminate on his mistake, away Jack went about his unlawful business again.
A little while after this, meeting on the road betwixt Hammersmith and Kensington with one Palmer, a victualler, who formerly kept the King’s Head ale-house, in King’s Head Court, in Drury Lane, he took from him a silver watch and eighteen shillings; and Mr Palmer desiring Jack to give him some small matter to bear his charges up to London, quoth he:
“Had you been an honest trades- man, perhaps I might have considered you; but as I know you wear a blue flag, I will not give you a farthing, because all of your profession neither eat, drink nor think but at other men’s charges.”
Afterwards meeting betwixt Hampstead and Kentish Town with a barrister of Lincoln’s Inn, and taking from him a gold watch, a silver snuff box and two guineas, quoth he to Jack:
“I’d have you take care what you do, for I am a lawyer; and if you should come into my hands I should be very severe upon you”.
“I value not the severity of all the lawyers in England, who only learn to frame their cases from public riddles and imitating Merlin’s prophecies, and so set all the Cross Row together by the ears; yet your whole law is not able to decide Lucian’s old controversy betwixt Tau and Sigma.”
So binding the lawyer hand and foot, he left him to plead his cause by himself.
Not long after this exploit, Jack, meeting a serjeant of the Poultry Compter coming from Islington, commanded him to stand and deliver, or else he would shoot him through the head. The fellow being surprised gave him forty shillings, desiring at the same time that he would be so civil as to return him what he pleased back again. But Jack knowing his rascally function, quoth:
“Sirrah, was the tenth part of a farthing to save your life, nay, your soul, I would not give it, because thou art the spawn of a broken shopkeeper, who takes delight in the ruin of thy fellow- creatures! The misery of a poor man is the offal on which you feed, and money is the crust you leap at; your walks in term time are up Fleet Street, but at the end of the term up Holborn and so to Tyburn, for the gallows is your purlieu, in which you and the hangman are quarter rangers; the one turns off, and the other cuts down.”
At these words, quoth the serjeant:
“And I hope I shall have the happiness of cutting you down too one of these days”.
“Perhaps so”,replied Jack,
“but you shall devour a great many more of the sheriff’s custards first”.
So tying him neck and heels, he bound the serjeant to his good behaviour, till some passengers came by to release him.
He had committed fifty-six robberies thus on foot, and at last being apprehended, upon the information of one Will Jewel, a prisoner in the Marshalsea Prison, in Southwark, for robbing his Excellency the Duke d”Aumont, the French Ambassador here, he was committed to Newgate, and tried at Justice Hall, in the Old Bailey, for assaulting and robbing on the queen’s highway Mr Matthew Beazly, Mr William Winslow, Mr Disney Stanniford, Mr Robert Sherwood and Mr Joseph Ashton, on the 30th of November and 20th of December, 1710, and the 6th of February, 1711. For which, being cast and condemned, he was hanged at Tyburn, on Friday, the 2nd of March following, aged twenty-three years.
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