Monday, 15 June 2015

Huffey White - Highwayman

We are well used to hearing the romanticised tales of Dick Turpin & Jack Sheppard, plus the deceitful career of Jonathan Wild - he planned and committed robberies, was the leading criminal and fence in London but was also a thief taker.  He sent many of his cohorts to Tyburn without the slightest trace of conscience.  But a notorious highwayman you will never hear of was Huffey White.  He operated throughout the country, but one of his abilities, was to escape from the prison ships, time and again, after he was sentenced to transportation.  He robbed banks, waylaid travellers on coaches and his notoriety grew.  He was arrested in 1809 and sentenced to be transported for life.  He escaped from the prison hulk before it could sail.  He returned to his criminal career but was arrested again, this time in Stockport, in 1810.  He was to be transported yet again.  But as before, he escaped from the ship.  Then he was arrested for robbing the Paisley Union Bank, but as usual, he escaped yet again. (Amazingly, exploits like this would have received the usual Hollywood bullshit with truth the perpetual loser!)  He then set off around the country, robbing at will.

    His crimes included robbing the Leeds Mail coach, then heading south out of the way.  He became well known to the authorities in Birmingham, so he ventured to the south west, to Bristol.  But he was lucky to evade capture, as the Post Office offered a huge reward for his arrest.  This brought informers and criminals out in force, looking to cash in.  He decided in 1813 to head for Liverpool. But the authorities received word and were waiting for him.  He teemed up with a villain called Richard Haywood.  But the forces of Law & Order closed in, after informers gave word to constables that they were in a house in Scotland Road.  A number of officers went to the house but the occupants refused to let them in until they identified themselves.  The reply was that the door will be kicked in unless it was opened. It duly was, and a search found the two in the cellar, where a furious fight broke out before the two were subdued and arrested.  They found plenty of evidence of their crimes in the house and were jailed.  Huffey White continued his long criminal career but eventually, his time ran out when he was hanged at Northampton in 1841.