JOHN WESKET AND JOHN COOPER
The Former was executed at Tyburn, 9th of January, 1765, for robbing his Master, the Earl of Harrington; and the Latter transported for Fourteen Years for receiving Stolen Goods
JOHN WESKET had been for many years a gentleman's servant, and had pilfered from several of his employers. In company with one Bradley he robbed the house of a gentleman in Hatton Garden, and also the chambers of Mr Montague, a Master in Chancery.
Wesket was engaged as a porter to Lord Harrington in the year 1762, but continued his acquaintance with Bradley, and was likewise intimate with Cooper, who kept a chandler's shop in Little Turnstile, at whose house Bradley lodged; and both these men visited Wesket at his new place.
Wesket having formed a plan for robbing his noble master imparted his design to the other two. He and Bradley agreed to commit the robbery on the following Saturday night, when Lord and Lady Harrington were going to the opera, which would give Wesket an opportunity of concealing his accomplice in the house. Wesket secreted Bradley in his chamber, and told him to remain there till about midnight, when he would come to him.
Lord Harrington and his lady came from the opera about twelve at night, and less than two hours afterwards, when all the family were quiet, Wesket went to his accomplice and took him into the kitchen, where an impression from Bradley's dirty shoes was made on the dresser, and they then made a similar impression in the area, first leaving the kitchen window open, as an intimation that the robber had gone off that way.
They now went into the study, where they lighted a candle; and Wesket having forced open the bureau, by means of a gimlet and chisel, they took out notes, jewels and money, to the amount of two thousand pounds, all which Wesket assigned to the care of Bradley, bidding him carry the booty to Cooper, and then let him out at the street door and went to bed.
When Lord Harrington went into his study he discovered the depredation that had been made on his property, whereupon a strict search was made through the house, to find which way the thief had escaped; and then it was that the impression of Bradley's shoes was noticed on the dresser and in the area. But, as it was observed that no footsteps appeared except in the kitchen and area, it was presumed that some person within the house had committed the robbery.
The chisel, gimlet and tinder-box were found by the steward, who interrogated Wesket respecting the robbery. Some suspicion arising that he had a concern in it, Lord Harrington sent for a magistrate, who questioned all the servants in the strictest manner; and Wesket, in whose pocket ten guineas were found, was turned away, on the presumption of his guilt, as nothing arose that could justify the magistrate in committing him to prison.
He was no sooner dismissed than he went into one of the boxes at Covent Garden Theatre, when Bradley, happening to see him from the gallery, waited for him at the playhouse door, after the entertainment was over. Wesket having informed his companion of what had passed since the robbery, Bradley told him what booty had been obtained, and desired him to come to Cooper's and inspect it. They accordingly met on the following day, when Bradley, representing the danger of trying to put off the notes in London, proposed to attempt doing it at Chester Fair. This being agreed to, Bradley went to the fair, where he purchased a quantity of linen, for which he paid the notes to the Irish dealers, and received the balance in cash. The Earl of Harrington having kept the number of one of the notes of which he had been robbed, it was carried to the bank, where the payment of it was stopped, and it was traced through the hands of many persons to those of Mr Smith, a Liverpool merchant, who said he took it of Mr Breath, a linen factor, at Newry, in Ireland. Mr Breath being written to, his answer was that he received it of a person at Chester Fair, who said his name was Walker, and was dressed like a gentleman, but had nothing in his behaviour that could warrant his assuming that title.
On this Lord Harrington's steward went to Chester to endeavour to learn where the supposed Walker had lodged during the fair; which he found to have been at the house of a shoemaker named Rippington. He learned further that Walker had set out for London in a post-chaise, and on his arrival in the metropolis had written a letter desiring that a pocket-book, which he had left behind him, might be sent to the St Clement's Coffee-House, in the Strand.
The steward received this letter, and brought it to London and delivered it to Sir John Fielding, when it was discovered to be Bradley's writing. Thereupon the active magistrate above mentioned caused several persons to attend at the coffee-house; but no discovery arose from this diligence.
Bradley's person was immediately described in handbills, which were circulated through the kingdom, and a reward was offered for taking him. At this juncture a hackney-coachman declared in a public-house that in his hayloft was a large chest belonging to one Bradley, and that Cooper had delivered the chest to his care; but he knew not its contents. On this Cooper was sent for to Sir John Fielding's; and, strong suspicions of the guilt both of him and Wesket arising, they were committed to Newgate for trial.
In a few days Bradley was found, dressed in seaman's apparel, at a public-house in Wapping, and, being conducted to Bow Street, he made such a declaration respecting the robbery that Sir John Fielding thought proper to admit him an evidence against the other parties.
At the next sessions at the Old Bailey, Wesket and Cooper were brought to trial, when the former was capitally convicted for the burglary, and sentenced to die; and Cooper was sentenced to be transported for fourteen years, as the receiver of stolen effects.