British Executions

James Fryer

Age: unknown

Sex: male

Crime: robbery

Date Of Execution: 24 Jun 1778

Crime Location:

Execution Place: unknown

Method: hanging

Executioner: unknown



Executed for Burglary and Robbery under Threats of Violence, 24th of June, 1778

THE trial of these prisoners took place at the Old Bailey sessions in April, 1778. It appeared that on the evening of the 1st of March the prisoners, with three other men, were seen at Finchley together, and that while drinking in a public-house they made many inquiries of the persons present with regard to the house and family of a Mr Clewen, a gentleman of respectability who resided in the neighbourhood. The same night, between twelve and one o'clock, Mr Clewen's house was entered by five persons, whose faces were disguised, and the noise created by their rushing upstairs was heard by Miss Clewen and her servant, who immediately ran out of their bedchambers to see what was the matter. They were forced to return, however, for three of the men entered their room, and compelled them to cover their heads with the bedclothes, uttering loud threats of violence if they offered any resistance. The men-servants, who slept at the top of the house, being now alarmed, the thieves proceeded to their apartment, and one of them, named Quick, having got up, received a severe blow with an iron bar, and, like his mistress, was compelled, with his fellows, to cover himself up with the bedclothes. Two fellows then remained to watch them, while the rest went to Mr Clewen's room and treated him in the same manner, and then they proceeded to the bedchamber of his son, whom they forced to go to his father's bed, holding his hands before his eyes so that he should not distinguish who were his assailants. They then ransacked the house, and in about half-an-hour returned, and said that if young Clewen would tell them where the money was they would give him his watch, which they had taken from under his pillow. This being refused they went away, saying that they were only going for some victuals and would return.

The house was then immediately examined by Mr Clewen, when it was found that the thieves had effected an entrance by means of the back door, and that they had fastened up that as well as the front entrance by nailing staples over the locks. It was afterwards discovered that they had carried off twenty-two guineas, fifty pounds in bank-notes, a quantity of plate, several gold rings, a silver watch, and other property to a considerable amount. Information of the robbery was immediately conveyed to Sir John Fielding, whose officers, recognising the offenders from the description given of their persons, succeeded in securing the prisoners -- Fryer at a small house which he occupied in the City Road, where were found a number of picklock keys and a hanger; and Horner at his lodgings in Perkins' Rents, Westminster, a cutlass being concealed under his bed. Two supposed accomplices, named Condon and Jordan, were also apprehended, but nothing distinct was proved against them, so they escaped. Jordan, however, was afterwards convicted for a second burglary in Copenhagen House, for which he received sentence of death.

Conviction having followed the production of this evidence, sentence of death was passed. Upon the Sacrament being administered to Horner and Fryer they admitted their guilt, and were executed at Tyburn, on the 24th of June, 1778. The other offenders were subsequently also apprehended and executed.