Highwayman executed

Preserved Nissen huts at Camp 21.

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On this day in 1731 eight young men were executed at Newgate, London. One of them was Portsmouth-born John Davis who, with an accomplice, was a highwayman.

He was indicted for assaulting a man on the King’s Highway near Islington, London, and stealing his coat, waistcoat, breeches, wig, hat, sword and ninepence and halfpenny.

He was also convicted of murdering Thomas Tickford who, Davis maintained, had been stabbed by his partner.

Just before his execution, Davis was asked how many robberies he had committed. He said he did not keep count, but according to the Account of the Ordinary of Newgate: ‘...they were very numerous, he having had no way of living for some years past but by thieving or robbing in the streets and highway.

‘His conscience often checq’d him and when his friends told him what would be the end of his loose idle life, he made vows of an amendment but never had the virtue or grace to perform them.’- from John Sadden’s The Portsmouth Book of Days.