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1786: Outrageous robbery at Staplefield Common

Updated: Oct 2, 2020

Oxford Journal - Saturday 30 December 1786


Last Tuesday a man was committed to Horsham jail by Samuel Blunt esq, being charged before him on oath with robbing mr Richard Hards, a farmer on Staplefield Common, near Cuckfield of two guineas and a half, in his house, in the following very singular and daring manner:

the prisoner about 6 o'clock in the evening of the preceding Saturday, went boldly into Mr Hard’s kitchen, where himself, wife, and three servants (two men and a boy) were sitting, and accosting and the farmer with great familiarity by saying “Ah! Master Hards! How do you do?

You are the very man I want to see,” clapped a cocked pistol to his breast and demanded two guineas and a half, when Mr Hards being very much alarmed and desperate attack, offered him all the money he had in his pockets, about 17s but this robber refused, adding, he knew there was money in the house, and that he must have the sum he had before mentioned; when Mr Hards went upstairs and brought it down, which the villain received with as much composure and as little interruption, in the presence of two stout ploughmen, as if it was his just and legal claim, and afterwards begged a pint of beer, which he drank; and having told Mr Hards that if matters turned out to his expectation, he would shortly repay him, and leave the money for him with Mr Knowles, of Handcross, he went leisurely away.

- He was apprehended through the means of Mr Waller, Attorney, at Cuckfield, who, on his return home from Worth on Monday, hearing in the robbery spoken of at Crawley, said he had not long before passed and man on the road, with a bludgeon in his hand, exactly answering the description of the robber, when summer persons immediately went in pursuit of him and took him at the Dukes head, at Copthorne. He was the next day examined, when he confessed the fact fully committed as above, to take his trial at our next Assizes for the offence.



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