Executed at Northampton, for Robbing the Leeds Mail
THE trial of these two notorious characters, and their accomplice, lasted upwards of fourteen hours, and the guilt of the two former was established by nearly 40 witnesses. In the first instance, the arrival of the mail at Kettering, on Monday, the 26th of October, at the usual hour, with the different bags all safe, which were forwarded from thence with the Kettering and other bye bags, were satisfactorily proved; as likewise the whole being safe at Burton-Latimer, three miles from Kettering, when the guard, after travelling about three quarters of a mile from Burton, quitted his seat, and went over the roof of the coach, and rode on the box with the coachman till they approached near to Higham-Ferrers, when he resumed his seat behind the coach. Having arrived at Higham, the guard, on going to unlock the mail-box, dicovered that the lock had been broken off, and on opening the lid, that the bags had been taken away. At the different post towns the rest of the way to London, he gave information of the robbery; and, on his making the circumstance known at the general post-office, the postmasters general immediately dispatched several Bow-street officers to endeavour to ascertain how and by whom the robbery had been committed. On Lavender's arrival in the country, he learned that Kendall, a known suspicious character, lived at Wellinghorough, in quest of whom he immediately went, and caused him to be apprehended; when, on inquiry, it appeared, that Kendall, with another man, had travelled in a chaise-car from Keyston toll-gate, Hants, through Thrapston to Wellingborough, in the afternoon previously to the robbery, and that they would arrive at the point where the road from Thrapston to Wellingborough crosses the London-road, near the obelisk, in the parish of Finedon, before the mail-coach would pass, and near to which place it was supposed the robbery was committed, from the circumstance of four small bye bags being found on the road unopened.
On farther investigation respecting Kendall's companion, there appeared very strong reasons to suspect that White was the party, as it was ascertained that he had occasionally been residing at Reyston-gate, but was known by the name of Wallis. In consequence of these circumstances, rewards were immediately offered for his apprehension, which was at length effected. From the evidence adduced it was dearly proved, that White was the companion of Kendall, and that they had been seen together several times; notwithstanding Kendall, in his examination before the magistrates, denied having any knowledge of the person who rode with him in his chaise-car on the day of the robbery, and stated that it was a person he accidentally met with and took up on the road. It further appeared in evidence, that about half an hour after the mail passed the obelisk at Finedon, two men were observed in a cart or gig travelling towards Wellingborough, and that one of them said to the other, "It's a complete job; d--n you, drive on;" and that shortly afterwards, one man in a car or gig went through the turnpike-gate between Finedon and Wellingborough, who before he arrived at the gate was heard speaking to another person, who passed the gate on foot; the turnpike gate-keeper stated that no other cart or gig had gone through the gate that night.
It was then proved that White and Kendall were seen together at Wellingborough the next morning (Tuesday the 27th), from whence the former took a post-chaise at Rythorne, which is near Keystone-gate, then kept by Mary Howes, who went by the name of Taylor; but at a short distance before he arrived there, be ordered the post-boy to set him down in the road, and he walked towards the gate. It appeared that after his arrival at the toll-gate, Mary Howes requested a person who was going through the gate, to order a chaise and pair from the George Inn, at Thrapston, to be sent to the gate to go to Huntingdon. The chaise arrived in a short time, in which White and Howes immediately set off for Huntingdon, which they reached about eight o'clock on Tuesday evening, and then walked together to Godmanchester; there they endeavoured to hire a horse and gig to convey them to Kisby's Hut, a public house about three miles and a quarter from Caxton, in Cambridgeshire; not being able to procure a gig, they went on the outside the Edinburgh mail to the Hut, where they stopped a short time, and were conveyed from thence to Caxton, by the landlord in his taxed cart. From Caxton they travelled the direct road to London in post-chaises; arriving in Bread-street, Cheapside, about eight o'clock on Wednesday morning, and were set down in the street. It appeared, that in a short time after, White, accompanied by a woman, went to the Bull's Head Tavern, in Bread-street, where the latter stopped till Thursday evening, and the former till the Saturday following. During White's stay at the Tavern, and previously to the woman's departure, one Samuel Richardson, a noted character, who has been connected with the desperate gang of public depredators lately apprehended, swore, that White had shewn to him a considerable number of notes and bills, which he told him had been taken from the Leeds mail, and particularly a bill of exchange for £200 which became due on the following day, (Friday, the 9th) and offered to sell them to Richardson, who declined purchasing them, saying that they would not suit him. The above £200 bill was identified as having been stolen from the mail the night it was robbed.
After the production of a variety of other testimony, all agreeing in the most satisfactory manner to substantiate the guilt of White and Kendall, the jury, on receiving from the learned judge (Mr Baron Thompson) a charge distinguished for its impartiality, perspicuity, and humanity, found the prisoners, White and Kendall guilty, and acquitted Howes, upon a point of law, under direction of the judge, who immediately after, passed the awful sentence of death upon the two former.
White was engaged, with several others, a short time before the robbery for which he was executed, in breaking open the Kettering bank, and such was the dexterity with which the robbers conducted the business, that the proprietors, Messrs. Keep and Gotch, were entirely ignorant of any circumstance of that kind having occurred, till a considerable time afterwards, when they were made acquainted with it by the accomplice, who turned king's evidence upon Huffey's trial. The bankers conceiving it impossible that such an affair could have transpired without their knowledge, and without exciting the least suspicion, at first treated it very lightly; nor could they be brought to rely upon the truth of the information, until they were told the number of the page on which their London banking account was kept -- the amount of the balance as it then stood, and many other particulars, which could only be obtained from an inspection of their private ledger. It appears, that on searching the premises they found an iron chest, which they could not open, and concluded that in this chest was deposited some gold, they determined, as they had gained so easy an entrance, upon leaving everything in the bank as they found it, and renew the attack on some future occasion, when they had provided themselves with a proper key.
White, previous to his execution, gave up £322 in bank of England notes to Mr Howes, of that town; and Mr H. advertised that those who had lost property might apply for the recovery.