The Newgate Calendar - WILLIAM BANKS

WILLIAM BANKS

Executed at Horsemonger Lane Jail, 11th of January, 1830, for an Armed Burglary

Illustration:
Banks and his Gang robbing the Warringtons

   THE Reverend William Warrington was a gentleman of large property, who resided at Grove Cottage, West Moulsey, in the vicinity of that well-known spot, Moulsey Hurst, Surrey. On the night of Wednesday, the 19th of November, 1828, his house was entered by four burglars, and a great quantity of valuable property carried off. Mr Warrington's house adjoined that of Mr Jeffs, a magistrate of the county, and a ladder, which had been accidentally left in the garden of the latter gentleman, was employed by the thieves in effecting an entrance to the house which they had determined to rob. The circumstances which attended the burglary were as follows.

   Between one and two o'clock on Wednesday morning Mrs Warrington was in her bedchamber, engaged in writing, and Mr Warrington was in the same room in bed asleep, when the former was terrified by hearing some persons at the back part of the house attempting to force a window on the first floor, which opened on to a staircase and to a passage which led to the bedroom. Before she had time to alarm her husband, the fastenings of the window were wrenched off, without breaking the glass, and as she opened her bedroom door she beheld four men, who had entered by the window by means of the ladder before mentioned, in the act of ascending the stairs and approaching her chamber. Her fears were so excessive that she was struck speechless for a few seconds. When she recovered she shrieked, and exclaimed: "Good God, we shall be murdered; there are thieves in the house!"

   Her husband was awakened instantly by her cries, and he had just time to leap from his bed and proceed in his shirt to the mantelpiece, on which he constantly kept a loaded pistol, before the four villains entered the chamber. He seized the pistol, levelled it at one of the thieves, and fired; but without effect. The first man who entered the room, however, a dark, ferocious-looking fellow, in turn drew from under his coat a pistol, and presented it at Mr Warrington. The villain pulled the trigger, but the powder did not ignite. He recocked it, and pulled it a second time but it flashed in the pan. Mrs Warrington fell upon her knees, and in the most earnest and affecting manner implored the villains not to murder her husband, but to take all the property without interruption. The thieves then produced some cords (which they had stolen from Mr Jeffs's garden), and tied Mr and Mrs Warrington's hands and feet. Their hands they tied fast behind their backs, and cautioned them to be silent as they valued their lives. They left Mr and Mrs Warrington in their bedroom for a few minutes, and proceeded upstairs to the servants' sleeping apartments, and there they bound two female servants (the only persons in the house beside Mr and Mrs W.) with cords, in the same manner as they had previously bound the others. After they had bound them the four robbers carried them downstairs to a vault which was under the house, and fastened them in that cold place, with scarcely any covering. The villains then returned to Mr Warrington's bedroom, searched his clothes, and broke open his desks and drawers, and, in truth, ransacked the house completely. They took cash to the amount of about thirty pounds, and jewels and plate of considerable value, with which they decamped. The servants had been confined for several hours in the vault when one of them, after much exertion, released one of her hands from the cord and forced her way through the door of the vault. After ascending some steps she found another door fastened, and she had to break through that before she could assist her master and mistress, whom she found in a most deplorable state of agitation. She unloosed the cords which secured them and, having released her fellow-servant also, they alarmed Mr Jeffs's family and the other neighbours. Mr Warrington found that not only all his portable property of value had been carried off, but that the villains had stolen a horse, valued at eighty guineas, from the stable, and had taken his phaeton from his chaisehouse, and by these means had carried off their booty. Mr Warrington sent information of the robbery to Mr Cooke, constable of Kingston, who set off in pursuit of the robbers. He was able to trace the phaeton and horse and two of the robbers from the house of Mr Warrington, by a very circuitous route, to Walton Bridge, and from thence through several by-roads to Knightsbridge.

   On the same day Mr Warrington also gave information of the robbery at Bow Street, and Ellis, Ruthven and Bishop were directed to institute an investigation, with a view to apprehending the thieves. Upon the arrival of the officers at the house of Mr Warrington various minute circumstances transpired which induced a strong belief in their minds that the robbery had not been committed by experienced thieves, but that it had been "put up," or sanctioned by some person in the house. The clumsy manner in which the boxes and drawers had been opened seemed to point to the first impression, and the undoubted circumstance of six buck-shot having been withdrawn from Mr Warrington's pistol, which had been lying on the mantelpiece for several days, led to the latter conclusion. Suspicion seemed to attach to one of the female servants, who had been familiarly accosted by her name, "Fanny," by one of the robbers, and who had been the first to secure her escape from the cords by which she had been confined, and she was taken into custody. After a few days' imprisonment, however, the officers declared themselves unable to produce any positive evidence against her, and she was discharged.

   From this time the most anxious exertions were made by the police officers to secure the robbers. Every means in their power was tried; but although they succeeded in tracing them by witnesses to London, where Mr Warrington's phaeton and horse were found, they were unable to discover who were the persons by whom the burglary had been perpetrated.

   In the month of July, 1829, however, the long-pending mystery was solved. A man named Barnett, a Jew, had been convicted of a burglary in the house of Mr Colebatch, in Thames Street, for which he had been sentenced to transportation for life; but, anxious to save himself from the infliction of this punishment, he tendered information as to the parties who had composed "The Moulsey Gang," as they were now called, upon condition of his liberty being restored to him. The proposition was at once accepted, and he immediately impeached Banks and four other men, named John Smith, William Johnson, James Taylor and William Potts -- alias Emery. The officers instantly set about endeavouring to procure the apprehension of these persons, and Cragg, a resolute officer of Bow Street, was directed to proceed in search of Banks. This fellow was a notorious thief, and was suspected to have been concerned in many robberies which had recently been committed. Cragg had heard that he had frequently declared his resolution not to be taken alive. Determined to succeed in his object, however, Cragg attired himself in the garb of a butcher and proceeded in search of him. Many days elapsed before he could find him; but at length he met with him and, rushing at him, presented a pistol at his head, and called upon him to surrender himself a prisoner, Banks appeared astounded at this salutation, and made no resistance, but exclaimed "I am a dead man." When his person was searched, a loaded pistol was found in his pocket, and on his back was a coat which was a part of the produce of a robbery in which he had been recently concerned, in the house of Mr Campion, at Waltham Cross.

   The other prisoners were apprehended about the same time; and Potts was proved to have pawned a pair of shoes which also had been stolen from Mr Campion's. Upon their examination before the magistrates at Bow Street, Banks's participation in both burglaries was clearly proved, and he was committed for trial. Both Mr and Mrs Warrington identified him as one of the persons who had entered their house, but pointed him out as having acted with some degree of humanity and strongly protested against the exercise of any cruelty by his companions.

   Banks alone was committed for trial upon the charge of burglary at Mr Warrington's, the evidence against the other prisoners not being sufficiently conclusive to warrant their being indicted, and he was found guilty, and sentenced to death at the succeeding Surrey Assizes.

   After his conviction he professed himself to be perfectly willing to meet his fate, as he knew nothing of a state hereafter; he declared that all he cared about being hanged was for the pain it would cause him. He refused to receive any consolation from the chaplain, and was perfectly unmoved up to the time of his being pinioned.

   He was hanged at Horsemonger Lane jail on the 11th of January, 1830.

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