Glimpses Of Our Ancestors In Sussex - online book

With Sketches Of Sussex Characters, Remarkable Incidents &c

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Sussex Tragedies and Romances.            195
to death. They were identified on this occasion by a witness from Draycott, Staffordshire, who had known them from their birth as the sons of a farmer named George Weston. They were executed at Tyburn on September 3rd, 1782, and, according to a writer in the Gentleman's Magazine, "made a good ending," receiving, as Catholics, the consolation of their faith. But the same account fails not to tell us that they were "two of the most artful villains that have ever appeared at any time in this country, and have robbed the country of an immense sum." It was the career of these men that supplied Thackeray with some of the incidents of the novel which he was writing when his life and the story were suddenly ended. The scene of it, it will be recollected, was laid at Rye, and an attempt to rob the London coach of a large sum of tax-money gives the hero an opportunity to distinguish himself at the expense of the highwayman, who receives the contents of the lad's pistol in his face.
It seems " a little too bad " to give Lord Dacre " of the South" such companions as these; but crime, like poverty, " has strange bed-fellows."
We have said that Sussex had no Dick Turpin or Claude Duval. But the foot-pad who, early in the present century (1807), infested the roads between Arundel and Chichester, and eased graziers and farmers of their heavy purses as they returned home from market, until he became a word of fear to the western part of the county, may well compare with any highway notoriety in daring acts and in his tragic end. His name was Allen, and he had been a footman in the service of the Lennox family; but this was not known until he had made the country so " hot " by his numerous robberies that, at length, the militia were called out to effect his capture. He was pressed so closely that at length he took refuge in a pond at Graffham, near Midhurst. There, however, he was followed, and espied by some of his pursuers—among them a son of Mr. Sargent, a neighbouring gentleman of large property. Unfortunately young Sargent—a fine young man
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