DAVIS, THE MAIL-ROBBER
Executed and hung in chains near the place where he committed the robbery
THIS man was a tallow-chandler in Carnaby-market, London, where he had some time carried on business with apparent credit, until his goods were distrained upon by his landlord, for rent. On taking an inventory thereof, a pistol was found in a drawer of a bureau, with some parts of bank notes, and several bills of exchange.
As the Cirencester mail had been robbed above two years before, and the customary reward had been in vain advertised for the discovery of the thief, a suspicion arose against him. The notes being shewn to an officer of the post-office, he suspected them to have been taken out of the mail; but lest he should prove innocent, and the charge be detrimental to him, a stratagem was used to carry him before a magistrate, to answer for some broils in which he had lately been involved. He was then charged with robbing the mail, which he denied.
But when he was upon the point of being discharged, a person came to the office with a silver tankard, which had been advertised to have been purchased with one of the notes plundered from the mail, of Mr Harding in the Minories, and found concealed in Davis's house.
Mr Harding was then sent for, who swore that the prisoner purchased it of him. Hereupon he confessed that he knew the person who had robbed the mail, and who, he said, then lay under sentence of death in Newgate.
To this falsehood he was answered, that the person he described, was sentenced only to transportation; upon which he turned pale and was agitated. He was thereupon committed to prison, and a warrant of detainer lodged against the convict whom he had accused.
He was removed by writ of habeas corpus, to Aylesbury, and on the 12th of March, 1755, there brought to trial.
When asked, in the usual form, whether he was guilty, or not guilty, to the charges laid in the indictment? He refused to plead till his irons were taken off. This the court consented to, and he then pleaded, 'Not guilty'; but after a trial which occupied five hours, he was convicted.
On the third of April following, he was executed at Gerrard's Cross, in Buckinghamshire, the place where he committed the robbery, and there hung in chains.