THESE offenders were tried for a murder, which arose from the following circumstance:
Having agreed to commit a robbery together, they stopped a gentleman's coach on the road to Kensington, robbed him of a sum of money, and ran off. Soon afterwards meeting a Chelsea pensioner, who had a gun in his hand, they ordered him to deliver it; but the man refusing to do it, Wilkinson stabbed him repeatedly through the back with the hanger; and when they saw the man was dead, they hastily decamped, committed some robberies on coaches on the road, and then went to London.
On the following day they were apprehended, and committed to prison; and being soon afterwards brought to their trial at the Old Bailey, they were convicted, and received sentence of death.
It will be now proper to give such an account of these offenders as we have been able to collect. Robert Wilkinson was the son of poor parents in St. Giles's, and, having missed the advantages of education, became an associate of coachmen, carmen, and others the lowest of the people. At length he grew to be a dexterous boxer, and frequented Hockley-in-the-Hole, and other blackguard places in the neighbourhood of London. After this he commenced footpad, and committed a great variety of robberies, attended with many circumstances of cruelty. Frequently did he knock men down with bludgeons; and when he had robbed women, it was a common practice with him to strip them naked, bind them to trees, and leave them in that calamitous situation.
He continued this way of life alone for some years, and then connected himself with the other villains whose names are mentioned in this narrative.
James Lincoln was likewise born of mean parents, nor was any more care taken of his education than of Wilkinson's. For some time he served the hackney coachmen and carmen, and afterwards committed an immense number of footpad robberies on the roads near London; and so frequent were his depredations of this kind, that honest men were afraid to pass alone about their lawful business.
He had been so successful in his adventures, and had so often escaped detection, that he grew so hardened, as to watch four nights at the end of Queen-street, Lincoln's-inn-fields, to rob the Duke of Newcastle of his george, though he knew that his grace had always a number of servants in his train.
Being disappointed of this booty, he went on foot to Hyde-park, where he robbed a gentleman in his carriage, and eluded all pursuit. The money he acquired by his robberies was spent in the most extravagant manner; and, at length, he became acquainted with the other subjects of this narrative, and was concerned in the crime which ended in their mutual ruin.
Thomas Milksop was a native of London, and was bound apprentice to a vintner, in which station he became familiar to some scenes of irregularity that had a natural tendency to corrupt his morals. When the term of his apprenticeship was expired, he attached himself to some abandoned women, and got connected with an infamous gang of housebreakers and other thieves, who committed numberless depredations on the public.
Milksop having, by one of his night-robberies, acquired a considerable sum of money, bought a horse, and rode out in the character of a highwayman; but not meeting any success in this way, he returned to his former practices, and then engaged with a gang, of which Wilkinson and Lincoln were two, and was concerned in a great number of other facts, besides that which brought him to a fatal end.
The behaviour of these malefactors under sentence of death was rather hardened. They had been guilty of a great number of offences, for which they did not appear to have a proper concern. Such was the conduct of Wilkinson, that the Ordinary of Newgate refused to administer the sacrament to him; on which he said, if he was not allowed to go to heaven with others, he would find the way alone. Lincoln professed himself a Roman Catholic; and Milksop, among his other offences, particularly lamented the committing a rape on a poor woman whom he robbed near Caen-wood.