Thursday, November 19, 2015

Highway Robbery in Kent, 1811

Thursday, November 19, 2015
Dr Syntax Stopt by Highwaymen
Loretta reports:

The way this is written, the robbery seems to have been a relatively civilized encounter. The robber, for instance, did not shoot his victim upon learning he had an undesirable watch and insufficient money. And nobody bothered Mrs. Atkins.
     As Mr. and Mrs. Atkins, of Maidstone, were returning from London, on Thursday, Nov. 14, in their single horse chaise, just as they had reached the 15th mile-stone, corner of Birch Wood, about half past one o’clock in the afternoon, a man came out of a gap-way on the left-hand side of the road from London, and without saying a word, seized the horse by the head. Mr. Atkins immediately stood up in the chaise, and said he would not be robbed, and began to flog the man with his chaise-whip, in hopes of making him let go his horse’s head, upon which he drew his right hand from behind him and presented a horse-pistol. At that instant a companion of his (whom Mr. Atkins had not seen before) made his appearance, and going round the horse to Mr. Atkins’s side, demanded his money. Mr. A. finding his resistance useless, gave him four guineas; not satisfied with that, the robber said you have more. Mr. A. replied, yes, I have a little silver, and gave him to the amount of 10 s. The robber afterwards demanded his watch, which being in a tortoise-shell case, said he would be d—d if he would have, and repeatedly questioned him as to his having more money; but on Mr. A. assuring him he had not, he was suffered to proceed. The man who seized the horse never spoke a word all the time, but held the horse with his left hand and the pistol with his right; the other, who took the money, said, it was distress drove them to it. Neither of them attempted to rob Mrs. Atkins, nor did they say any thing to her. —La Belle Assemblée, Volume 2

Image: Thomas Rowlandson, "Dr. Syntax Stopt by Highwaymen," from The Tour of Dr. Syntax in Search of the Picturesque.

Clicking on the image will enlarge it.  Clicking on the caption will take you to the source, where you can learn more and enlarge images as needed.


Chris Jones said...

There is a record of John Evelyn suffering the same sort of thing when travelling between London and Tunbridge Wells 150 years earlier. I expect a quick search of the Internet will find it. I have often thought it must have been the inspiration for the account in Syntax.

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