Who, with two Associates named Bunce and Low, committed many Robberies, and was executed at Tyburn in 1707
JACK HALL was an expert in breaking open houses, going on the footpad, shoplifting or pilfering any small matter that lay in the way nay, if it were but mops and pails; the "drag," which is having a hook fastened to the end of a stick, with which they drag anything out of a shop window on a dark evening; and "filing a cly," which is picking pockets of watches, money, books or handkerchiefs.
To this end he used to haunt churches, fairs, markets, public assemblies, shows, and be very busy about the playhouse. And he who performs this last part of thieving commonly gives what he takes to another, that in case he should be found with his hand in any man's pocket, he might prove his innocence by having nothing about him but what he can justify to be his own.
Having ~L design once to rob a great merchant in the City of London, he went oftentimes hankering about his house, but could never effect it; whereupon he bethought himself of this stratagem. He was to be put into a pack done up like a bale, and by the contrivance of his comrade, who was very well apparelled, he was to be laid into this merchant's house in the evening as so much silk, which he was to see next morning, and buy off his hands if they agreed. Accordingly this bale full of iniquity, wedged inwardly on all sides with coarse cloth and fustian, was laid up in the warehouse.
Night being come, and the apprentices weary, two of them, whilst their master was at supper, went to rest themselves, and by accident lay on this bale, which was placed by some others, insomuch that the extreme anguish of their weight being very heavy upon Jack Hall, he could scarce fetch his breath. Upon this he drew out a sharp knife, and making a great hole in the fillet of the bale he also made a deep wound in him that Jay most upon it, which made him rise and roar out his fellow apprentice had killed him.
Running out to his master in his agony, his fellow apprentice followed him, and was innocently secured, till a further examination of the matter. In the meanwhile Jack Hall made his escape out of a window, taking only two pieces of velvet along with him.
He was also very good for the "lob," which is going with a consort into any shop to change a pistole or guinea, and having about half of his change the consort cries: "What need you to change? I have silver enough to defray our charges where we are going." Upon this the other throws the money back again into the money box, but with such dexterity that he has one of the pieces, whether shilling or half crown, sticking in the palm of his hand, which he carries clean off, without any suspicion of fraud.
Again, he was very expert at the "whalebone lay," which is having a thin piece of whalebone daubed at the end with bird lime, and going into a shop with a pretence to buy something, make the shopkeeper, by wanting this and that thing, turn his back often; and then take the opportunity of putting the whalebone, so daubed with bird lime, into the till of the counter, which brings up any single piece of money that sticks to it. After which, to give no mistrust, they buy some small matter, and pay the man with a pig of his own sow.
Hall also went with some of his wicked associates upon the "running smobble," which is this: one of them goes into a shop and, pretending to be drunk, after some troublesome behaviour puts out the candles, and taking away what ever comes first to hand he runs off, whilst another flings handfuls of dirt and nastiness into the mouth and face of the person that cries out "Stop thief!" thus putting him or her into a sudden surprise, and giving them an opportunity of going off without apprehending.
Jack Hall, Stephen Bunce and Dick Low, going upon an enterprise at Hackney about twelve of the clock at night, by the help of their betties and short crows made a forcible entry into the house of one Clare, a baker, whose journeyman, tied neck and heels, they threw into the kneading trough, and the apprentice with him. Jack Hall stood sentry over them with a great old rusty back sword, which he found in the kitchen, and swore with a great grace that both their heads went off as round as a hoop if they offered to stir or budge.
In the meantime Dick Low and Stephen Bunce went up to Mr Clare's room; whom they found in bed with his wife, and tied and gagged the old folks, without any consideration of their age, which had left them but few teeth to barricade their gums from the injury they might receive from those ugly instruments that stretched their mouths asunder.
Finding not so much as they expected, they ungagged the old man again, to bring to a confession where he hoarded his money; but extorting nothing out of him, Jack Hall being then come up to them, for fear they should sink upon him, which is a usual thing among thieves, to cheat one another took up in his arms the old man's granddaughter, about six years old, lying in a trundle bed by him, and said: "D --n me, if I won't bake the child presently in a pie, and eat it, if the old rogue will not be civil."
These scaring words made Mr Clare beg heartily that they should not hurt the child and he would discover what he had; so fetching, by his order, a little iron bound chest from under the bed, and unlocking it, they took what was in it, which was about eighty pounds; then obscuring their dark lanterns they bid the baker good night, and commanded him to return them thanks that they spared his ears, which is against the law for any of their occupation to wear.
An end came to Hall's wicked crimes in the year 1707, when he deservedly suffered death at Tyburn, with his companions Low and Bunce.