Hackney-Coachman and Leader of a Gang of Robbers, executed at Chelmsford, 10th of August, 1775, for Burglary
LAMBERT READING was the principal of a desperate gang of hackney-coachmen who robbed Copped Hall, in Essex, not far from London. He had a hackney-coachman in confederacy, who waited for him at Stratford. A magistrate of the county, happening to pass by the coach, was struck at its being there at an unusual hour of the night, from which circumstance he was induced to observe its number.
Hearing, the next day, of the robbery at Copped Hall, he wrote to Sir John Fielding his suspicions, and named the number of the coach. From this information the thief-takers traced Reading to a house in Brick Lane, where they found him in bed with a woman who passed as his wife.
He was surrounded with pistols, hangers, picklock keys, dark lanterns and other apparatus of a housebreaker. He had an opportunity of using some of these arms in his defence, but he was so greatly intimidated that he quietly surrendered himself. The material result of the search was the recovery of the plate stolen from Copped Hall, which was found hidden in Reading's apartment, in three sacks.
On evidence to this effect, added to other corroborating circumstances, he was convicted and executed.
The other hackney-coachman, whose name was Chapman, and who drove for one Conyers, the owner, was taken on the day of Reading's trial; and, being found guilty as an accessory, also received sentence of death, which was afterwards commuted for transportation.