8th February 1783 - highwayman William Peare holds up stagecoach at St Thomas' bridge

In February 1783 William Peare robbed a stage coach at St Thomas’ Bridge, which is on the London Road close to where the Hampton Inn is now:

Charles Harper writes in ‘The Exeter Road’

On the 8th of February 1783 he stopped the Salisbury diligence just beyond St. Thomas's Bridge, smashed the window, and fired a shot into the coach, terrifying the lady and gentleman who were the only two passengers, so that they at once gave up their purses. He then went on to Stockbridge, where he stopped a diligence full of military officers ; but finding the occupants prepared to fight for the military chest they were escorting, hurried off. After many other crimes in the West, he was captured in the act of undermining a bank at Stroud, in Gloucestershire. He was tried and sentenced at Salisbury, and executed at Fisherton, going to the gallows with the customary nosegay, which remained tightly held in his hand when his body was cut down[1]. A set of poems, allegedly written by a girlfriend was published:
For me he dared the dangerous road, My days with goodlier fare to bless ; He took but from the miser's hoard, From them whose station needed less.

Peare was one of a number of highwaymen who operated in the South Wiltshire area. Harper tells more in :The Exeter road: the story of the west of England highway

Footnotes

[1] The Exeter road : the story of the west of England highway (1899), Charles G. Harper, Chapman & Hall, page 228 Link:The Exeter road

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