Thursday 30 July 2009

Crime-fighting drama

This short but action-packed newspaper report of an event on 5 September 1764 takes us from crime to courtroom in the space of a paragraph:
Yesterday about six o’clock in the evening, a Gentleman on horse-back, was stopt and robb’d by a single foot-pad, in a lane that leads from Deptford lower-road, to New-Cross. The Gentleman soon after met some Bricklayers, and other workmen, going home from their labour, and acquainted them with what had happened; upon which they immediately went in pursuit of the robber, and in searching the ditches, they soon found him lying all along in a dry ditch. The fellow perceiving himself discovered, got up and run for it, but was soon over-taken and surrounded in a large field; he then pull’d out a pair of pistols, and swore he would blow out the brains of the first man that should offer to take him; upon which the pursuers threw stones, dirt, and any thing they could get, to make him surrender; when the fellow found he could not withstand them, he made another push, and ran by them all; but unluckily for him, in endeavouring to leap over a muddy ditch, he fell short and stuck in the middle, where he was taken, but not till he had fired a pistol at the person who first seized him, but which happily did no damage; the rest of the pursuers came up and secured him, in order to his being carried before a magistrate.

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