British Executions

William Bew

Age: unknown

Sex: male

Crime: highway robbery

Date Of Execution: 17 Apr 1689

Crime Location:

Execution Place: unknown

Method: hanging

Executioner: unknown



Who practised the Art of Flattery on the Highway. Executed 17th of April, 1689

WE have little more to say of this fellow than that he was the brother of Captain Bew, the notorious highwayman who was killed some years ago at Knightsbridge by one Figg and some thief-takers, and that he was himself as great an offender in that way as his said brother for most of his time; only his reign was shorter than that of some others, he being apprehended at Brainford before he had pursued the course many years, brought from thence to Newgate, and at the next execution tucked up at Tyburn. This fatal day to him was Wednesday, the 17th of April, in the year 1689.

 The following story, which Bew himself used to tell, is of an adventure of Bew with a young lady, whom he overtook on the road, with her footman behind her. He made bold to keep them company a pretty way, talking all along of the lady's extraordinary beauty, and carrying his compliments to her to an unreasonable height. Madam was not at all displeased with what he said, for she looked upon herself to be every bit as handsome as he made her. However, she seemed to contradict all he told her, and professed with a mighty formal air that she had none of the perfections he mentioned, and was therefore highly obliged to him for his good opinion of a woman who deserved it so little. They went on in this manner, Bew still protesting that she was the most agreeable lady he ever saw, and she declaring that he was the most complaisant gentleman she ever met with. This was the discourse till they came to a convenient place, when Bew took an opportunity to knock the footman off his horse; and then addressing himself to the lady, "Madam," says he, "I have been a great while disputing with you about the beauty of your person; but you insist so strongly on my being mistaken, that I cannot in good manners contradict you any longer. However, I am not satisfied yet that you have nothing handsome about you, and therefore I must beg leave to examine your pocket, and see what charms are contained there." Having delivered his speech he made no more ceremony, but thrust his hand into her pocket and pulled out a purse with fifty guineas in it. "These are the charms I mean," says he; and away he rode, leaving her to meditate a little upon the nature of flattery, which commonly picks the pocket of the person it is most busy about.