JAMES WHITE AND WALTER WHITE
Brothers who were executed at Kennington Common, 19th of April, 1758, for Robbery with Violence
THESE brothers were natives of Surrey, and had resided in the neighbourhood of Guildford and Godalming. They were long accounted lazy, sottish fellows, seldom seen at labour, yet ever sneaking about, and tippling in public-houses. Their supply of money to support these low and idle debaucheries had been long suspected, yet, though many petty larcenies had been committed in the neighbourhood, no charge had been brought forward against them.
At length, however, justice, though slow, yet sure, overtook them. They were apprehended on suspicion of committing a robbery and burglary in the house of Mr Robert Vincent, a farmer of Crawley, in the said county, in consequence of information being given against them by an accomplice, who in fact seduced them into the robbery -- a depredation of a magnitude which they had not before attempted.
Being arraigned at the Lent Assizes held at Kingston, in the year 1758, it appeared in evidence on their trial that the prisoners beat Mr Vincent inhumanly, and threatened to burn him alive if he did not discover where his money was hidden. They then robbed him of four pounds eighteen shillings in silver, one Portugal piece, value thirty-six shillings, two guineas and a half, and various other articles. They were found guilty on the clearest evidence. At the place of execution they acknowledged the justice of their sentence.
While these unhappy men were yet struggling for life, an infant, of about nine months old, was put into the hands of the executioner, who nine times passed the hands of each of the dying men over its face. The child had a wen on its cheek, and the ignorant, superstitious mother conceived it could be cured by dead men's hands!
The elder of these unfortunate brothers was twenty-three and the other had but just turned twenty-one years of age.