Encounter with a highwayman!

A further instalment of Carol’s investigations within the Woodhorn archive:

There was an explosion of activity at Bamburgh Castle, in the years after Dr John Sharp was appointed one of five Trustees, (administering the Will and wishes of Lord Crewe who died in 1721) following the death of his father Thomas Sharp in 1758. Thomas Sharp was the son of John Sharp, Archbishop of York, a friend and advisor of Queen Anne. The Lord Crewe papers contain careful hand written records of the decisions made by the trustees, in first Thomas, then his son John’s hand.

A record of October 2 1773 records the appointment of George Wood, whose name appears continuously thereafter in records affecting Bamburgh Castle.

George Wood of Queen Street Durham Gent be appointed to keep the Accounts of the trustees of Lord crew, to receive rents from the Estates from the several stewards of the Estates, to pay annuities, and to make payments as directed, and remit or send money to Bankers of the Trust in London for payment of Annuities-£20 per annum from 29 September 1773”

Some years later on 16 June 1778 George Wood wrote the following startling letter to Dr Sharp from Durham (NRO452/C/3/2/8/16), relating to a presumably valued watch seemingly ordered by Dr Sharp, which had escaped detection during a Robbery…

I received the Watch last Wednesday brought by Mr Robson and to the trouble already given to you on this occasion I have taken the liberty of requesting that you will be pleased to get it paid for, and for that Purpose I have sent you above Mr Dunn’s Draft for 40 guineas upon Mr Harrison. I think that was the price and I fancy Mr Arnold in such cases makes no Abatement. I am much pleased with it but from the short Trial I have had I think it rather too fast…I have not however attempted to regulate it till you come to Durham

Mr Robson came in the city and was stopped by a highwayman, masked, near Pancras Church who behaved with great civility- presenting his pistol with one hand he received with the other what the company [in the coach], consisting of five Gentlemen and a Lady were pleased to give him- he did not carry off above fifty shillings and the whole in silver. Mr Robson lost about ten shillings-he did not ask for Watches-it was extremely dark and Mr Robson was under great Apprehensions of his returning when he should discover the inconsiderable nature of his Booty. My watch was tied up in a shirt in his Saddlebag in the Coach”

It must have been a huge relief to the hapless Mr Robson that the Highway man was so well mannered-and that darkness masked the paucity of his haul!

Carol Griffiths

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