The story started on June 11th, 1652, when
John went to meet his wife, Mary in the port of Rye. She had just escaped from
a besieged Paris and had been three days at sea in a small boat.
They had only avoided capture by the enemy Dutch fleet in the English Channel because they
had been mistaken for fishermen. John had not seen his wife since the beginning
of the year and was keen to get back to London.
my wife, was unwell with being so long
at sea, so we set not forth towards
home till the 14th when, hearing the small pox was very rife in and about London
and that my Lady had a great desire to drink Tunbridge waters, I carried them
thither where I stayed… and also took the waters myself for a few days until
23rd when business called me homeward leaving my little family
in their cottage by the Wells.
“The morning growing
hot, I sent my footman ahead and so
rode negligently in the shade till
being now come to within three miles of Bromley, at a place called the
out jumped two
cut-throats… Striking with their
long staves at the horse and taking
hold of the reins, they threw me down
and immediately took my sword and hauled me into a deep thicket some quarter of
a mile from the highway, where they might securely rob me.
“What they got of money was
not considerable but they took two rings and
other things which were of value and after all that, barbarously bound my hands behind me, and my feet, having
before pulled off my boots.
then set me up against an oak, with most bloody
threatenings to cut my throat, if I offered to cry out, or make any noise, for
they would be in my hearing .... I told them, if they had not basely surprised
me, they would not have had such an easy prize, and that it should teach me
hereafter never to ride near a hedge: since, had I been in the middle
of the road, they would not have dared
to attack me. At
this they cocked their pistols and told me they had long guns too, and were
fourteen companions, which all were lies.
“I begged for my onyx
and told them that as it was engraved with my arms, it would betray them, but nothing prevailed… They tied my horse
to a tree and left me bound…
“Well, being left in this
manner, I was grievously tormented with the flies, the ants and the sun, so as I
sweated intolerably, great was my
anxiety how I should get loose in that solitary place where I could neither hear
nor see any creature but my poor horse and a few sheep.
“After nearly two hours
attempting, I got my hands to turn palm to palm whereas before they were tied
back to back and then I struggled a
great while ere I could slip the cord over my wrist to my thumb, which at last I
did, and then being quite loose, soon unbound my feet, and so saddling my horse
and roaming a while, I at last perceived a dust to rise and soon after heard the
rattling of a cart, towards which I made, and by the help of two country fellows
that were driving it, got down a steep bank, into the highway again, but could
hear nothing of the villains.
“So I rode to Colonel
a great justice of the times, who sent out hue and cry immediately.
“The next morning, weary and
sore as I was at my wrists and arms, I went to London, got 500 tickets printed
… describing what I had lost and within two days, had tidings of all I lost
except my sword which had a silver
hilt and some other trifles. These
rogues had pawned my rings, etc. for a trifle … before the tickets came to the
“July 10, I had news of the taking of one of the
knaves who robbed me and was summoned to appear against him.
So on the 12th, I was in Westminster Hall but, not being bound over nor willing
to hang the fellow, I did not appear… However the man, being found guilty, was
turned over to the old bailey. In
the end, upon some other crime … he was pressed to death: one thing I
remember, he was one of the worst looking fellows I ever saw.”