1724: Highwayman John Tawney Executed for Stage Coach Robbery in Broadway

Gloucester Castle keep: the old county gaol. Based on an 1819 work, from W. Andrew, ‘Old English Towns’, published 1909. Via Wikimedia Commons.

In August 1724, John Tawney, of Ampney Crucis, Gloucestershire, was executed in Over1 near Gloucester after being found guilty at the County Assizes of the charge of highway robbery on the London to Worcester coaching route above Broadway.

Born in Ampney Crucis to parents who were described as being “honest parents” who gave him “sufficient competency to begin the world with”, Tawney reportedly kept “wicked company”. Aged 30 at the time of his conviction, Tawney was married with four children.

At his trial in August 1724, Tawney admitted that he had in the previous two years been involved in several highway robberies including robbing 20 people going to Cirencester Fair. On the night he attacked the London Worcester Stage Coach, Tawney was accompanied by an accomplice called Stutley. Tawney admitted that they broke in to stables owned by Mr Lillington at Wotton-under-Edge to steal horses which they used to ride to the hill above Broadway where they attacked and robbed the occupants of the coach. Captain Bissel, who was on the coach, prevented Tawney and Stutley from making off with their bounty and they fled the scene.

Tawney was tracked down and was held at Gloucester Castle, which at the time served as the county gaol. Before Tawney was hanged at Over he was reported in the papers as  “being very sullen”. Before going to the gallows, Tawney allowed a Minister to pray with him and he was pressed by the Minister to reveal the whereabouts of his accomplice Stutley and another man he had mentioned during his trial but he refused to reveal their whereabouts.

 

Debbie Williamson
Broadway History Society

 

Notes:

  1. Prior to 1792, executions at Gloucester took place in the village of Over 2 miles from the city. The condemned were conveyed to the gallows in carts, sitting on their own coffins.

 

 

 

 

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Broadway History Society

Broadway History Society, Broadway, Worcestershire

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