Skip to main content

Highwaymen Skulduggery

 

In the 1700s, travelling along Dorset’s roads was a precarious pastime. One day in September 1756, accompanied by his servant, an Oxford clergyman was to discover these perils at a cost.

As he was making his way from Blandford towards Shaftesbury, the Reverend Collins was ordered to halt and ‘stand & deliver’ by two mounted highwaymen. One spoke with a Welsh accent while the other had an olive-skinned Latin look about him. However, the two highwaymen presented a somewhat bizarre sight as one was riding an extremely tired old nag. As they were both holding a blunderbuss gun, the cautious clergyman reflected but then wisely decided to obey. The unfortunate ecclesiastic was then robbed of his horse, cloak and eight guineas. The highwayman, whose transport had been much improved, presented the Reverend Collins with his old nag enabling the unfortunate clergyman to continue on his way.

Emboldened by their success, the two robbers decided to make their way to a public house in Pimperne to celebrate and spend some of their ill-gotten gains. After consuming several pints of ale, their occupations became increasingly obvious from their careless conversations. This was confirmed by the sight of a blunderbuss which was barely and indiscreetly concealed under a coat. Unfortunately for the indiscreet duo, there was also a party of soldiers drinking in the Pimperne pub. The highwaymen were seized by the troopers and escorted to Dorchester Jail.

After being identified by the Reverend Collins in the Dorchester courtroom, they both confessed to the robbery together with the previous theft of two horses in Wales. One of the highwaymen was a carpenter from South Wales while the other was a plasterer who was Italian by birth.

‘They had between them fourteen guineas in money, each a brace of pistols and a blunderbuss; one of which was loaded seemingly for great execution having no less than sixteen bullets in it and powder in proportion.’ (Oxford Journal – Saturday 2 October 1756)

At the time, according to former Pimperne publican Roy Adam, there was a pub in the village called the White Lion. It had a cellar with walls eighteen inches thick and made from a mixture of straw and mud.

With the frequency at the time of such roadside hazards, it is perhaps not surprising that the horse-drawn Salisbury ‘flying stagecoach’ had the following condition of travel.

‘Money, plate, jewels, bank notes or writings the owners of the coach will not be accountable for if lost,’

The Salisbury ‘flying stagecoach’ claimed it could complete its journey to London in less than a day.

(Illustration: is this the Pimperne inn where the two highwaymen were arrested or was the White Lion Inn the site of the now closed but nearby Farquarson Arms?)


Comments

  1. This looks like The Anvil

    ReplyDelete
  2. Yes, it is the Anvil

    ReplyDelete
  3. I remember in the 1960s it was run by Wally Jones who had an electrical contractors business I wonder where he is now.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Wally was a Londoner I believe and he played cricket for Pimperne.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Tarrant Rushton's Nuclear Secret

Tarrant Rushton was a large RAF base used for glider operations during World War II. It was then taken over by Flight Refuelling for the conversion of aircraft for the development of aircraft in-flight refuelling. However, between 1958 & 1965, the Tarrant Rushton airfield had a much more secretive and less publicised role. This was in support of the nation’s nuclear bomber deterrent, as Tarrant Rushton airfield became a QRA (Quick Reaction Alert) dispersal unit.   During 1958, contractors Costain reinforced the main runway and carried out other work to ensure the giant bomber aircraft could be accommodated. At times just a few miles from Blandford, there would have been up to four RAF Vickers Valiant bombers at Tarrant Rushton ready to become airborne in minutes charged with nuclear weapons. The bombers were from 148 Squadron at RAF Marham in Norfolk. As there was no suitable accommodation at the airfield, an old US Air Force Hospital building at Martin was used. At the time, the

Shapwick Sea Monster

On a Tuesday in October 1706, a travelling Poole fishmonger was wheeling his cart on the outskirts of the village of Shapwick. Unknown to him, a large crab fell from his barrow. This was to cause panic and alarm among the Shapwick villagers. Living inland, and perhaps in the 18 th century not having travelled beyond Blandford, the Shapwick villagers had never before seen a crab. Trudging home and exhausted by his day’s labour, a Shapwick farm worker discovered this crawling creature by stepping on it. So strange was its appearance, he believed it was the devil himself. Running on to the village, he told everyone excitingly of his horrid find. Fearing it was the work of the devil, the villagers armed themselves with pitchforks, sticks and stones. Knowing not what to do, they decided to consult the shepherd Rowe considered by many to be the local wise man. Sadly, the aging oracle was now past his prime and for the last six years had been confined to his bed. The old man was as infirm as

Bravest Village Controversy

A Dorset village was once recognised as the bravest in England. That village was Shillingstone in North Dorset. After the outbreak of World War I, the newspaper the Weekly Dispatch inaugurated a competition for the village that sent, in the first six months of the war, the highest percentage of its population into the British Services. According to local newspaper, the Western Gazette Shillingstone sent 90 men out of a total population of 565. (Western Gazette Friday 26 th September 1919) Across the country,  365 other villages sent in their returns. However, the competition would not prove to be short of controversy. The award was made to Knowlton in Kent which with 39 inhabitants and six houses had sent 11 men. However, the Rector of Shillingstone, Dr Cooke protested that Knowlton was too small to be a village and in fact was a hamlet. The matter was referred to the Attorney General, Sir Frederick Smith who held that the original decision should stand as no minimum population ha