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NORTH HEATH ROBBERY - 1798

On Wednesday 5th December 1798, between 7 and 8pm, the London post, from Midhurst, Arundel and Petworth, was held up and robbed by 2 men on North Heath, between Midhurst and Fernhurst.
Subsequently two brothers, Robert and William Drewets were hanged for the offence at Horsham Common on the morning of 13th April 1799.
 
A notice was issued the next day [shown left] by the Post Office offering a reward totalling £280 for the capture of those responsible. click to view
This was a vast amount of money for this time and demonstrates how serious the crime was considered.
 
General Post-office,
Thursday, 6th December,1798.
 
The Postboy, carrying the Mail from Petworth to Haslemere, was stopped at a Place called North Heath, about two miles from Midhurst and six from Haslemere, between Seven and Eight o'Clock last Night, by two Men on Foot, dressed in White Round Frocks; one of them took hold of the horse and threatened to blow the Boy's brains out, if he was not quick in unstrapping the Mail.
The Robbers took away the Bags of Letters sent from Arundel, Petworth and Midhurst, of the 5th instant, for London.
Whoever shall apprehend and convict, or cause to be apprehended and convicted, both, or either of the Persons who committed this Robbery, will be entitled to a Reward of TWO HUNDRED POUNDS, over and above the Reward of FORTY POUNDS for each Person, given by Act of Parliament for apprehending Highwaymen: Or if any Accomplice in the Robbery, or knowing thereof, shall surrender himself, and make Discovery, whereby both, or either of the Persons who commited the same, may be apprehended and brought to justice, such Discoverer shall be entitled to the said Reward of TWO HUNDRED POUNDS, and will also receive His Majesty's most gracious Pardon.
 
By Command of the Postmaster - General,
FRANCIS FREELING,
SECRETARY.


execution of 2 brothers, dying speech
 
After their arrest and trial the two brothers were hanged at Horsham Common after which their bodies were taken to North Heath and hung in chains.
A leaflet issued at the time is shown, left. - click to view


Last DYING Speech
of
Robt. & Wm. Drewets. [Brothers]
Who were executed on Horsham Common 13th April 1799.
Pursuant to their Sentences, For robbing the MAIL
on NORTH - HEATH COMMON, Near Midhurst, in Sussex.
Price one penny.
 
Robert and Wm. DREWETS, [Brothers] were born near Midhurst in Sussex, of Poor, but honest parents; it being out of their power to give them but little education, having so large a family. --- Poor unhappy Men!
They learned nothing but Vice. Willm. being the elder brother always took the lead in his wicked actions, but at length the hand of Justice overtook him and put an end to his wicked actions.
He has left a Widow, and six small children.
Robert being the younger Brother and daily with William, gave way to the advice of his Brother, by which he met with his unhappy end.
The hour arrived which was to put and end to the lives of these unhappy criminals, they received the Sacrament, and after which they were placed in a cart and conducted to Horsham Common.
At the Gallows, Wm. declared his innocence, and hop'd that the spectators would take a warning, and not hang people wrongfully.
After hanging the usual time, their bodies were convey'd to the place where they committed the robbery to be hanged in chains.


This transcription was kindly written by Deidre Millington, of Nottinghamshire
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