Highway Robber, executed at Warwick Jail in 1713 for Robbery
EDWARD WICKS was born of very good parents, who kept an inn at Coventry, and bestowed on him so much education in reading, writing and casting accounts as qualified him to be a clerk for extraordinary business. He was an exciseman for about fourteen months; but not thinking that a post sufficient enough to cheat her Majesty's subjects, he was resolved to impose upon them more, by taking all they had on the highway. Being well equipped for such enterprises, he travelled the roads to seek his fortune, and had the good luck to commit two robberies without any discovery. But the third time, being apprehended for a robbery committed not far from Croydon, in Surrey, he was sent to the Marshalsea, in Southwark.
However, Wicks was not long under confinement before he obtained his liberty, by his friends making up the business with his adversary, to whom sixty guineas were given for taking from him but thirty shillings. Then, running Jehu-like to his destruction as fast as he could, he kept company with one Joe Johnson, alias Sanders; with whom going once on the road, they met, between Hounslow and Colebrook, with a stage-coach, having four gentlemen in it, who, seeing them come pretty near the coach, and perceiving they had masks on, were apprehensive of their intention of robbing them; and upon that, to be before-hand with them, one of them shot Joe Johnson with a brass piece, or blunderbuss, and lodged seven or eight large shot in his body. Wicks now rode clear off, without any hurt, whilst his comrade was apprehended, and, on suspicion, sent to Newgate, where he was charged by one Mr Woolly with robbing him of a silver watch and some money on the highway; for which he was hanged at Tyburn, on Wednesday the 17th of February, 1705, aged twenty-two years.
Another time, Wicks meeting with the late Lord M —- on the road betwixt Windsor and Colebrook, attended only with a groom and one footman, he commanded his lordship to stand and deliver, for he was in great want of money, and money he would have before they parted. His honour, pretending to have a great deal of courage, swore he should fight for it then. Wicks very readily accepted the proposal, and prepared his pistols for an engagement. His lordship, seeing his resolution, began to hesitate; which his antagonist perceiving, he began to swagger, saying: "All the world knows me to be a man; and though your lordship was concerned in the cowardly murdering of M —-d, the player, and Captain C —-t, yet I'm not to be frightened at that; therefore down with your gold, or else expect no quarter."
His lordship thus meeting with his match, it put him into such a passionate fit of swearing that Wicks, not willing to be outdone in any wickedness, said: "My lord, I perceive you swear perfectly well extempore. Come, I'll give your honour a fair chance for your money, and that is, he that swears best of us two shall keep his own and his that loseth." His lordship agreed to that bargain, and threw down a purse of fifty guineas, which Wicks matched with a like sum. After a quarter of an hour's swearing most prodigiously on both sides, it was left to my lord's groom to decide the matter; who said: "Why, indeed, your honour swears as well as ever I heard a person of quality in my life; but to give the strange gentleman his due, he has won the wager, if it was for a thousand pounds." Whereupon Wicks took up the gold, gave the groom a guinea, and rode about his business.
But not long after this, Wicks, being apprehended in London for a robbery done in Warwickshire, was committed to Newgate; from whence attempting to break out, he was quickly removed to Warwick jail, where, being tried the next July, he was condemned to be hanged. His parents made great intercession for this their only child, but in vain, for he was executed on Saturday, the 29th of August, 1713, aged twenty-nine years.