Richard Haynes (AKA Dick-Boy) 1766 -1800
HIGHWAY ROBBER of Oldland Common.

The makings of a villain

Whilst most of the crime committed in the Oldland area in the late 1700's was of a petty nature and carried out by shadowy individuals whose identity has been lost in the passage of time, a few became quite well known. The following occurences are from the life of one notorious individual recounted to a person who knew him from his infancy.

Richard Haynes, alias Dick Boy, born of poor parents in 1766 at Oldland Green, in the parish of Bitton, Gloucestershire. His father was a collier, with whom he worked til he was about 13 when he was put apprentice to a hatter. After some time, a disagreement happened, he beat his master and set off.

From the age of 7 or 8 years he was addicted to pilfering from the neighbours where he lived. He was connected with a gang of wicked boys about 9 or 10 in number (possibly from the Cock Road Gang), of which himself and one Carey were the principle heroes; Haynes would frequently steal great quantities of provisions from his parents and the neighbours to carry to his companions.

One curious theft in particular, he commited, when about ten years old: he watched a nieghbour putting some white pot and pudding into an oven; about half an hour previous to the time of drawing, he forced a way through the back part of the oven, plundered it, and after stopping the breach, carried its contents to his companions, who highly applauded his genius. When the woman returned she exclaimed, "I am sure this is done by a witch!"

Richard embarked on a life of Highway Crime in conjunction with his father. It is recorded that on one occasion he challenged his father to a race around the lanes of Oldland and beach and the winner would be the one who got the furthest whilst at the same time taking every opportunity to attack and rob people they came into contact with.

Richard was more than halfway round when he noticed his first unfortunate victim Richard sprung on the unsuspecting traveller and was just about to strike the victim again with the toe of his boot when he heard the feeble words " Dick our Dick! " for Gods sake its your father and with the sudden realisation of the probable injuries he had inflicted knelt down by his father and burst into tears, he then carried his father the three miles home to tend to his injuries.

Mastering his 'trade'

Through either good fortune or skill and helped by inefficient constabulary it was many years before Richard Haynes was first committed to prison on a charge of stealing provisions and clothing from a house in Beach near wick. However his luck continued with the assistance perhaps of a bribe he was acquitted and allowed to return to his life of crime.

Richard Haynes moved away from Oldland and spent the next few years throughout the south of England and Wales living the life of a purloiner in partnership with his childhood friend John Carey.

Near Oldland Common, they one day met a man who sold Gin, after each had taken a bottle they ran off; the man had them apprehended for robbery, and commited to Gloucester, but after he accepted a bribe from the pair's friends they were released. Both then returned to the adventurous crime of Highway Robbery.

Sometime during the 1780s a Mr Crach was held up at gunpoint and robbed whilst travelling near Downend. Not prepared to simply hand over his property he bravely but foolishly resisted after increased threats Dick Boy pointed the trigger at Mr Crach and pulled. The trigger did not go off to the relief of Mr Crach Dick now angry at the impertinence of Mr Crach leant down from his horse and hit Mr Crace hard across the head and then both men fled the scene leaving the dying man. There were no witnesses to the crime and by the time the body was discovered the two were long gone.

In the beginning of the year 1787, Haynes and Carey robbed a gentleman near Saltford, of his watch and five shillings, but no prosecution resulted.

After commiting various depradations in many parts, they directed their course towards Keltston Road, robbed a man of one guinea and a silver watch, for which they both apprehended and tried at Taunton Assizes.

Haynes stood firm during his incarceration and was not intimidated by the thought of the impending prosecution. He then managed to convince the magistrate that he was innocent of the crimes with which he was charged accordingly he was acquitted and set free.

However Cary was not so lucky, confessing to being involved in a number of Highway robberies (but for some reason making no mention of Haynes). He also admitted to have robbed the Butcher James Chapple from Brislington.

It was on the 25th August 1787 in the Somerset town of Ilchester that John Carey took the long painful walk to the hangman's noose. A few days after Carey was buried, Haynes took the body out of the grave, and brough it to Oldland, his native place, to bury it there.

His next offence after Carey's execution was, robbing a man of his watch at a public house in Hanham. From thence he went to Brentford, near London, there he commited a robbery and travelled on to London.

From Botany Bay to Oldland Common

After commiting many villainies, he was apprehended for robbing a gentleman of his watch on Westminster bridge, for which crime he was transported to Botany Bay. When he had been there between three and four years he escaped in a fishing canoe. After some time at sea, with about three days provision on board, he threw the luckless fisherman overboard, and submitted himself to the mercy of the sea for his escape. After many days, his provisions being quite exhausted, he landed on a small island, where he met with great civility form the inhabitants, as a distressed seaman.

He departed the island, and made his way back to europe subsisting on the charity of local people on the way, finally boarding a ship in which he worked his passage. When he landed Haynes made his way to Germany. After meeting with a variety of adventures, he heard of an English gentleman there, to whom he applied, and was engaged as a servant. He lived with him for a few months, robbed him, and immediately returned to England.

Haynes later returned to Oldland sporting a wife who he claimed was the daughter of a German nobleman. In reality she was the daughter of a couple from Westerleigh, however the Oldland people seem to have been taken in. They soon left again and went to London, she commited a robbery, and was hanged in 1794. Haynes himself got acquainted with the famous boxer, Big Ben, and being strong and powerful, he also became a 'bruiser', in which he generally proved successful. When that amusement was slack, he would have recourse to the trade of robbing.

Justice prevails

In the late 1790s Haynes returned to live in the Oldland area on one of his trips to Bristol he was recognised and accused of stealing a silver tankard during the resulting Melee' Haynes shot the constable John Driver wounding him. With the help of bystanders the police arrested Haynes and he was sentenced to death.

A Mr Bundy was a visitor and stayed with him in his dungeon employing the time with prayer and the singing of hymns and the exhortation of his worldly thoughts so he could meet his redeemer washed and cleansed of his sins.

Around midday on the 25th April 1800 34 year old Haynes declared that he had no ill feelings against anyone and began his last journey from Newgate Prison Bristol to the Gallows on ST MICHAELS HILL. Mr Bundy went with Haynes in the prison cart both appear to have continued with their hymn singing as the cart trundled through the streets of Bristol. According to an article in the Felix Farley Bristol Journal 26th April 1800 he was also accompanied (in a seperate coach) by the Rev Walcom of Newgate Prison.

Once at the gallows Haynes expressed his desire that there should be the minimum of delay (not quite what the Reverend  wanted as he had the prospect of delivering what would amount to a very sanctimonious sermon). Either in respect of Haynes' wishes or possibly because of the weather, the Rev offered up a final short prayer and Haynes departed this world.

An Account of Haynes' life, behaviour whilst under sentence and at the place of execution was printed by W. Matthews, Broad-Meade in 1800, price 1d.



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