Cache-Control: public, max-age=1024000 Lives of Remarkable Criminals: Henry Knowland



Henry Knowland was the son of a father of the same name who was a butcher. He received tolerably good education at school, and was brought up by his father to his own business; but he was of a lewd disposition, continually running after whores, keeping lewd company, gaming and drinking until he was able neither to stand nor go. He married his first cousin, who had formerly been the wife of Neeves, the evidence. It seems this very Knowland had been put into Whitechapel gaol upon her swearing a robbery against him for taking a gold chain off her neck, but that affair being accommodated, he a little after married her, which was perhaps no small cause of his future ruin.

He was always dishonest in his principles, and ready to lay hold of any money without ever thinking of paying it again. At Smithfield he used to be very dextrous in cheating country graziers of their cattle. The method by which he did it was generally thus. Taking advantage of a countryman whom he saw looked unacquainted with things, he struck a bargain as soon as possible, and for any price he pleased, for his goods; then stepping in to drink a mug and receive the money, Knowland had an accomplice already planted, who coming hastily into the room told him with a submissive air that a gentleman at such a place desired to speak with him. Upon this he, arising in a hurry, tells the countryman he would return immediately and pay him his money, while the attendant in the meanwhile drove off with the beast; and so the poor man was left without hopes of seeing either the money or bullock and perhaps ruined into the bargain for being obliged to pay his master for the beast that was lost.

Thomas Westwood, the second of these offenders, was a man descended of very mean parents, who either had it not in their power, or were so careless as to afford him little or no education. He himself, also, was a stupid, obstinate fellow, who never took any pains to attain the least degree of knowledge, but contented himself with living like a beast, in a continual round of eating and drinking and sleeping. By trade he was a sawyer, and when he wanted business in his trade, which, as the Ordinary tells us, he often did bring a poor purblind creature, he either sold sawdust about town, or else practised as a bailiffs follower, a profession which led him into yet greater debaucheries and extravagancies than otherwise possible he might have ever fallen into.

Knowland and he were apprehended on suspicion for being robbers, and were tried at the Old Bailey on four indictments, all said to have been committed on the same day, viz., on the 23rd of November, 1729. The first was for assaulting John Molton in an open field, putting him in fear, and taking from him four shillings; the second was for assaulting Mary Butler and taking from her sixpence in money; the third was for assaulting Nicholas Butler, and taking from him half a guinea and one shilling; the fourth was for assaulting Anne Nailor, and taking from her three and sixpence in money.

The prosecutors on all these indictments swore positively to the prisoners' faces. Mr. Butler was desperately wounded (the Ordinary says he was mortally wounded) but through God's grace recovered. In their defence they called a great number of people to prove them in other places at the time those robberies were committed, which they positively swore, but the jury giving credit to the prosecutors' evidence, they were both found guilty. However, they absolutely denied the crimes to the last suffering at Tyburn with great marks of sorrow and loud exclamations to God to have mercy on their souls, the 28th of February, 1730. Knowland being twenty-four years of age, and Westwood twenty-seven, at the time of their deaths.

Source: Hayward, Lives of the Most Remarkable Criminals