Last Monday forenoon, at 12 o'clock, pursuant to appointment, Messrs. Millingfield and Marsden, the two Churchwardens of St. Mathew, Bethnal-green, and Mr. Brutton, the Vestry Clerk, waited upon the Secretary of State at the Home-office, where they were met by Mr. Osborne and Mr. Twyford, the magistrates of Worship-street Police-office. The object of the meeting was to devise some measures to suppress the dreadful riots and outrages that take place every night in the parish, by a lawless gang of thieves, consisting of 500 or 600, whose exploits have caused such alarming sensations in the minds of the inhabitants, that they have actually found it necessary to shut up their shops at an early hour, to protect their property from the ruffians.
In order to give some idea of the outrages that have been, and are hourly committed, we merely give the following instances, and the disciplined manner in which the ruffians go to work:-
The gang rendezvous in a brick-field at the top of Spicer-street, Spitalfields, and out-posts are stationed to give an alarm should any of the civil power approach, and their cry is "Warhawk," as a signal for retreat. On the brick-kilns in this field they cook whatever meat and potatoes they plunder from the various shops in the neighbourhood, in the open day, and in the face of the shopkeeper.
On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, being market days, (Monday and Friday at Smithfield, and Wednesday at Barnet,) they sally out into the suburbs, and wait in ambush till a drove of beasts passes; they then attack the drovers, and take a beast from the drove, and convey it into the marshes till night; when they hunt it through the metropolis, and whilst the passengers and inhabitants are in the utmost state of alarm, they plunder, and in many instances nearly murder, every person that they meet; there are now no less than five individuals lying in the London infirmary, without hopes of recovery, that have fallen into the hands of the gang. Within the last fortnight, upwards of 50 persons have been robbed, and cruelly beaten, and one of the gang was seen one day last week to produce, amonst some of his associates, nearly half a hat-full of watches.
In consequence of these dreadful outrages, the Right Hon. Secretary gave orders that a reinforcement of 40 men, most of them mounted, should be stationed in different parts of the parish, and that they should be relieved every three hours, and with instructions to patrol the disturbed parts day and night, which is now the case. In addition to these measures, a magistrate was in attendance on Sunday at the Police-office, in order to hear cases against any of the marauders, shoud they be brought before him, and the Hon. Secretary has further ordered, that for the future the magistrates shall sit every morning at 10 instead of 11 o'clock.
On Wednesday se'nnight the gang attacked a lady and gentleman that were in a chaise in the Bethnal-green-road, and after robbing and beating them most inhumanly, they cut the reins and traces to prevent a pursuit.
The Secretary of State on Saturday had an interview with the magistrates of the district, respecting the state of that part of the metropolis, and anxiously inquired if the robbers were distressed weavers? We understand that an answer was given in the negative; but that they were a set of idle and disorderly fellows that hve been long known to the police as reputed thieves.
The deputation remained with Mr. Peel till one o'clock, and explained to him the necessity of a strong body of men (in addition to those already stationed there) being sent into the neighbourhood, as they felt confident that the robbers, who were well armed, would boldly attack (as they have done before) the civil power.
The Right Hon. Secretary assured the deputation, that immediate means should be adopted to rid the parish of the intruders.
The prompt manner in which the Right Hon. Secretary of State attended to the application of the parochial authorities of Bethnal-green, respecting the riots in that neighbourhood, has afforded great gratification to the parishioners, and by the formidable appearance of the detachment of Horse Patrol that were parading the thoroughfares in the parish the whole of Monday, the gang was deterred from coming forth. Three fellows were taken up on Monday night. One is supposed to be of the gang that so inhumanly attacked and robbed Mr. Fuller, the surgeon, at Cambridge-heath, for which three fellows are now awaiting their trials at the Old Bailey. Mr. Peel has given authority to the magistrates of Worship-street, to establish a Horse Patrol, under their own jurisdiction, and the expenses to be paid out of the hands of the office.
September 24, 1826
Monday a deputation from the parish of Bethnal Green waited upon MR. PEEL to request that some measures might be devised to suppress the dreadful riots and outrages that take place every night in the parish, by a lawless gang of thieves, consisting of 5 or 600. The gang rendezvous in a brick-field at the top of Spicer-street, Spitalfields, and out-posts are stationed to give an alarm, should any of the civil power approach, and their cry is "Warhawk," as a signal for retreat. On the brick kilns in this field they cook whatever meat and potatoes they plunder from the various shops in the neighbourhood, in the open day and in the face of the shopkeeper. Their outrages have been of the daring kind; there are now no less than five individuals lying in the London Infirmary, without hopes of recovery, that have fallen into the hands of the gang. Within the last fortnight upwards of 50 persons have been robbed, and cruelly beaten, and one of the gang was seen one day last week to produce amongst some of his associates, nearly half-a-hat-full of watches. - Mr. PEEL gave immediate orders for a detachment of Horse Patrol to be stationed day and night in the neighbourhood; and on Friday morning a party of forty men, to be under the jurisdiction of the Magistrates of Worship-street Police-office, were mounted; they are a party of able-bodied men who have held situations in the army, accoutred with cutlasses, pistols, and blunderbusses. - They will be in constant communication with forty of the dismounted patrol. The dismounted are divided into parties, and are stationed at the following posts, viz.:- Cambridge Heath Gate, Mile-end Gate, Whitechapel Church, London Apprentice Gate, and near the Regent's Canal in the Mile End-road. Both parties are to remain on duty till five o'clock in the morning. On Friday, being market day at Smithfield, the gang were on the look out for beasts, and we hear that, as early as six in the morning, two bullocks were taken from a drove. On Wednesday a bullock was rescued from them in the Kingsland-road, and after being secured in Clement's barn till the gang had been dispersed, it was conveyed home to its owner, MR. ALEXANDER, in Whitechapel market. It was reported, that MR. SYKES, the proprietor of the ham and beef shop in Winchester-street, Hare-street-fields, had died on Friday in the London Hospital, of the dreadful injuries he received from the gang, but we are happy to say he is still alive. It seems that MR. SYKES had only set up in business a few days, when about eight o'clock in the evening, about twenty fellows came round his shop, armed with sticks; he suspected they intended an attack, and for security got behind the counter, when the whole gang came in, and seizing a buttock of beef and a ham, ran out of the shop. He endeavoured to prevent them by putting out his arm, when one of them, with a hatchet or hammer, stuck him a tremendous blow which broke it in a dreadful manner; it has been since amputated, and he now lies in a very bad state. The gang then went into a baker's shop and helped themselves to bread, and afterwards adjourned to the brick-field, and ate the provisions in a very short time. It would be too tedious to state the numerous outrages that have been committed, but there is reason now to hope, that the etablishment of the horse patrol, and the conviction on Thursday of three of them, at the Old Bailey, for attacking and rubbing MR. FULLER will be the means of routing them altogether.