Crime: highway robbery
Date Of Execution: 1 Aug 1715
Execution Place: unknown
Highwayman, who was captured after a Fight, and executed with James Lawrence in August, 1715, at Warwick Jail
ZACHARY CLARE was a baker's son, born at Hackney, and by his father bred up to his trade; but becoming acquainted with Ned Bonnet, who taught him the trade of robbing on the highway, they practised it together with good success for three or four years in the counties of Hertford and Cambridge, and became such a terror to the people of the Isle of Ely that they durst hardly stir out far from home, unless they were half a dozen or half a score in a body together. But at length, Clare, being apprehended while robbing one day by himself, to save his own neck made himself an evidence against Ned Bonnet, who, being apprehended, was committed to Newgate, from whence he was conveyed to Cambridge, and there hanged, as before related.
One would think that the untimely end of his companion would have reclaimed him, but instead of being reformed he withdrew himself again from under his father's tuition and took to his old courses, with a resolution of never leaving them off till he was hanged too. However, dreading a halter, he was resolved to rob by stratagem; and accordingly, one afternoon, riding over Bagshot Heath, he falls to blowing of a horn, just as if he had been a post, whereupon three or four gentlemen then on the road gave him the way, as is usual in such cases, and being not rightly acquainted with the place where they were they made what haste they could after him for a guide, promising to give him some thing for conducting them to such a town. Clare accepted their civility, and being now upon the middle of the aforesaid heath, where was a lone house upon the side of the road, pretending to be thirsty, he craved the favour of the gentlemen to bestow a little drink upon him, withal saying there was a cup of very good liquor. They acquiesced to his request and rode up to the house, where a couple of his companions were planted, ready mounted, who attacked the gentlemen with sword and pistol with such fury that after a short resistance they obliged them to pay their postman about two hundred and thirty pounds for safely conducting them into their clutches.
Shortly after this adventure, being through his extravagance destitute of a horse, pistols and accoutrements fitting for a gentleman thief, he put himself into the disguise of a porter, with an old frock on his back, leather breeches, a broad belt about his middle, a hiving hat on his head, a knot on his shoulders, a small cord (an emblem of what would be his fate) at his side, and a sham ticket hanging at his girdle; then, going up and down the streets to see how fortune might favour his designs, it was his good luck one evening to go through Lombard Street when a gentleman was scaling up a couple of hundred pound bags. He took the advantage to walk by just as the aforesaid gentleman came to the door, where, calling for a porter, he plied him, and the money was delivered to him to carry, along with the gentleman, to one Squire Macklethwait's, living near Red Lion Square. But Zachary Clare, being tired of his burden, turned up St Martin's le Grand, and made the best of his way to lighten himself as soon as he could of his load. Clare, being thus recruited, soon metamorphosed his porter's habit into that of a gentleman's; and from a man of carriage transformed himself into an absolute highway man again. One of his consorts bought him a good horse in West Smithfield, whilst another bought pistols and other materials requisite for a person who lives by the words "Stand and deliver."
Being thus equipped he bade London adieu for ever, for it was the last time he ever saw it. His progress now was towards the West of England, where he and his associates robbed the Welsh drovers and several wagons, besides coaches; insomuch that they were a dread and terror to all those parts which border upon Wales. But staying there, till the country was too hot for them they steered their course into Warwickshire, where they committed several robberies with very good success, till one day Zachary Clare, and only one more in company with him, going to give their horses a breathing upon Dunmore Heath, attacked Sir Humphrey Jennison and his lady in their coach, who had then above one thousand, one hundred pounds in the seat of it, and the knight, being unwilling to lose it, came out to give them battle. An engagement began betwixt the highwayman and Sir Humphrey, one of whose two footmen was wounded in the arm, and the other had his horse shot in the buttock. But still Sir Humphrey's courage was not quelled; he maintained the fight more vigorously with what pistols he had till the coachman, discharging a blunderbuss, shot Zachary's horse dead on the spot, and himself in the foot. His comrade seeing him dismounted, and wounded into the bargain, fled as fast as he could. Clare was now taken, and Sir Humphrey, mounting his footman's horse which was not wounded, pursued James Lawrence, the highwayman who had left Clare in the lurch, and took him. Then, tying them behind one another, they were brought into Warwick, and being examined before a magistrate, committed to jail. Now being in close confinement, they made several attempts to break open the prison, and in order thereto they had file, chisels, ropes and aqua fortis to facilitate their escape. But being detected by one of their fellow prisoners they were loaded with the heaviest irons the jail afforded, and were also stapled down to the floor; under which strict restraint they continued for above four months, when, the assizes coming on, they were both brought to a trial, having a great number of indictments exhibited against them, to the great surprise of the whole Court, who tried them upon no less than ten, of every one of which the jury found them guilty.
Being condemned, they were remanded back to jail again, and secured in a dark dungeon underground, where, instead of preparing for their latter end, they did nothing but sing, swear, play at cards and get drunk from morning till night.
They miserably ended their lives in August, 1715, the first of them aged thirty-two, and the other twenty six.