Cache-Control: public, max-age=1024000 Lives of Remarkable Criminals: Richard Whittingham


a Footpad and Street robber

Though there have been some instances of felons adhering so closely together as not to give up one another to Justice, even for the sake of saving life, yet are such instances very rare, and examples of the contrary very common.

Richard Whittingham was a young man of very good natural inclinations, had he not been of too easy a temper, and ready to yield to the inducements of bad women. His friends had placed him as an apprentice to a hot-presser, with whom he lived very honestly for some time; but at last, the idle women with whom he conversed continually pressing him for money in return for their lewd favours, he was by that means drawn in to run away from his master, and subsist by picking pockets. In the prosecution of this trade, he contracted an infamous friendship with Jones, Applebee and Lee, three notorious villains of the same stamp, with whom he committed abundance of robberies in the streets, especially by cutting off women's pockets, and such other exploits. This, he pretended, was performed with great address and regularity, for he said that after many consultations, 'twas resolved to attack persons only in broad streets for the future, from whence they found it much less troublesome to escape than when they committed them in alleys and such like close places, whereupon a pursuit once begun, they seldom or never missed being taken. He added, that when they had determined to go out to plunder, each had his different post assigned him, and that while one laid his leg before a passenger, another gave him a jolt on the shoulders, and as soon as he was down a third came to their assistance, whereupon they immediately went to stripping and binding those who were so unlucky as thus to fall into their hands. Upon Applebee's being apprehended, and himself impeached, Whittingham withdrew to Rochester, with an intent to have gone out of the kingdom, but after all he could not prevail with himself to quit his native country.

On his return to London, he fled for sanctuary to the house of his former master, who treated him with great kindness, supplied him with work, sent up his victuals privately, and did all in his power to conceal him. But Jones and Lee, his former companions, found means to discover him as they had already impeached him, and so, on their evidence and that of the prosecutor, he was convicted of robbing William Garnet, in the area of Red Lion Square, when Applebee knocked him down, and Jones and Lee held their hands upon his eyes, and crammed his own neck-cloth down his throat.

When he found he was to die, he was far from behaving himself obstinately, but as far as his capacity would give him leave, endeavoured to pray, and to fit himself for his approaching dissolution. He had married a young wife, for whom he expressed a very tender affection, and seemed more cast down with the thoughts of those miseries to which she would be exposed by his death, than he was at what he himself was to suffer.

During the time he lay in the condemned hold, he complained often of the great interruptions those under sentence of death met with from some prisoners who were confined underneath, and who, through the crevice, endeavoured as usual, by talking to them lewdly and profanely, to disturb them even in their last moments. At the place of execution he wept bitterly, and seemed to be much affrighted at death and very sorry for his having committed those crimes which brought him thither. He was but nineteen years old when he suffered, which was on the 21st of May, 1722.

Source: Hayward, Lives of the Most Remarkable Criminals