The Newgate Calendar - PETER CONWAY AND MICHAEL RICHARDSON

PETER CONWAY AND MICHAEL RICHARDSON

Executed at Tyburn, 19th of July, 1770, for a Murder which was their first Essay in Crime

THESE men were two of a gang who had associated themselves for the purpose of plunder, and in their very first attempt committed murder; at which they were so terrified that they fled without rifling the pockets of the deceased.

On Saturday,the 26th of May, 1770, Richardson, Conway, and two men, named Jackson and Fox, went to the shop of Mr Robert Dun, in Prince's Square, near Ratcliff Highway, and purchased a pair of pistols. The above-mentioned Jackson was afterwards an evidence against his accomplices, but we do not learn that Fox was ever taken into custody.

Having purchased the pistols, they left them at the house of an acquaintance, named Thomas; after which they all went to the lodgings of Conway, where they spent the night. On the succeeding day (Sunday) they took a coach to Whitechapel, where they continued drinking till the dusk of the evening, when they went to Thomas's house for the pistols. Being unprovided with balls, they remained for a while in consultation what to substitute in their stead; and at length they cut a pewter spoon in pieces and loaded their pistols. This being done, Conway and Richardson went together, and the other two accompanied them, but at a short distance, that they might not appear to be a gang of ruffians. They met a gentleman's servant, whom they stopped; but, as he had no money, he was permitted to pass without further molestation.

It happened that, in the afternoon, Mr Venables, a butcher in Whitechapel, had been walking to Stepney with his neighbour, Mr Rogers, a carpenter, and they were returning to town when they were met by the villains above mentioned, a few minutes after they had parted from the gentleman's servant. Mr Venables and Mr Rogers had the appearance of men from whom a considerable booty might be expected; whereupon Conway stopped the former and demanded his money. Instead of delivering it, Mr Venables, who was a robust man, twice knocked down Richardson and Fox; and they had no sooner recovered their legs than Richardson and Conway immediately fired their pistols, and the two unoffending passengers were killed on the spot. The villains hurried away towards Stepney, whence they went to Ratcliff Highway, and thence to Wapping, where they stopped a man and robbed him of eighteen shillings and his watch.

The bodies of the deceased were found in the road and conveyed to the watch-house, and a surgeon was sent for, who examined the wounds, and found that they had been made by pieces of pewter. On the following Wednesday Jackson was apprehended on suspicion of having been concerned in the commission of the murders. On his examination he gave information who were his accomplices; on which he was admitted an evidence for the Crown. A few days after Jackson was taken into custody Conway went to the shop of Mr Burtman, a pawnbroker in Jermyn Street, where he offered a watch in pledge. An advertisement in the newspaper describing the person of Conway having been read by Mr Burtman, the latter imagined that he was the man thus described; on which he gave a hint to one of his servants to sit by Conway while he (Burtman) examined the watch.

The servant, apprehending danger, whispered to his master that it was probable he had pistols in his possession. On which a person was sent out to request the attendance of the neighbours, with a view to prevent mischief. In the interim Conway, remarking that they whispered together, begged permission to retire to the vault, which he was readily allowed to do; but on his return he was taken into custody, and a coach was called to convey him to Sir John Fielding's office in Bow Street. When he was brought to the house of the magistrate he was confronted with Jackson, when they mutually endeavoured to incriminate each other; but the circumstances against Conway were so very suspicious that Sir John Fielding did not hesitate to commit him to Newgate.

Richardson was likewise apprehended within five days after this commitment, and taken to Bow Street for examination, when the charge against him was so very strong that he was likewise committed to Newgate. At the next sessions at the Old Bailey the jury did not hesitate to convict them, and they were condemned to die.

After execution their bodies were cut down and conveyed to Bow Common, where they were put in chains and hung on a gibbet. More than fifty thousand visited the spot within the first five days. On Sunday, particularly, the place resembled a crowded fair; and many people made money by selling liquors and other provisions to the assembled multitudes.

 

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