JAMES GOODMAN was a native of Little Harwood, in Buckinghamshire, and served his time to a carpenter at Aylesbury. After he was out of his time, he and two other young men agreed to have a venison pasty, and make merry; in consequence of which they stole a deer; but being taken into custody, one of them turned evidence, whereupon Goodman and the other were imprisoned a year in Aylesbury gaol.
After his enlargement, he married and entered into business, which he carried on with success for about nine years: but becoming fond of idle company, he was soon so reduced in circumstances that himself and his family were brought to ruin.
Coming to London, he got into company with one Stephens, with whom he agreed to commit robberies on the highway. Pursuant to this plan they stopped Philip White, between Stratford and Ilford in Essex, and robbed him of his horse, one shilling, and his spurs.
Four days after this robbery, Mr. White saw Goodman on his horse at Bow, in the company of Stephens, who was likewise on horseback. Hereupon Mr. White sent his servant to demand his horse; on which the robbers galloped off, but were immediately pursued by Mr. White and his man. Finding themselves hard pressed, they quitted their horses, and ran into the field; when Mr. White gave his servant a gun, and bid him follow them. He did so; on which one of them fired twice, and said, "d--n it, we'll kill or be killed; we won't be taken alive; our lives are as good as theirs." On this Mr. White's servant fired his gun, which was loaded with pebble-stones, and striking Goodman on the head, he was so stunned that he was easily taken; and some other persons now coming up, one of them drew a hanger, and pursued Stephens, who submitting after a short resistance, both the prisoners were conveyed to Newgate.
Stephens having been admitted an evidence against Goodman, the latter was brought to his trial, when he endeavoured to prove that he was in another place when the robbery was committed, and that he had purchased Mr. White's horse; but the jury found him guilty, as they did not believe the testimony of his witnesses.
After conviction he was put into the bail dock, in order to receive sentence, but the night being dark, and being assisted by some other prisoners, he got over the spikes, and though he was loaded with irons, effected his escape.
But it was not long before he was re-taken, owing to a very singular circumstance. While in custody, he delivered some money to a carrier to take into the country to a woman with whom he had cohabited; but the carrier, considering his situation, kept the money for his own use.
Wherefore, about a month after his escape, Goodman went to an alehouse in Holborn, and sent for a lawyer, to concert with him how to recover the money of the carrier: but some persons in the house happening to know him, went to Newgate, and informed the keepers where he was; on which he was taken into custody after a desperate resistance; and at the end of the next sessions at the Old Bailey, he received sentence of death.
While he lay in this deplorable situation, he acknowledged his guilt, confessed he had committed many robberies, lamented the iniquities of his past life, and wished he could make reparation to those whom he had injured.