Outlaws and Highwaymen

Story from the Diary of Abraham de la Pryme
The Diary of Abraham de la Pryme, (Durham, Surtees Society, 1870), pp. 76–77

December 1695

Yesterday, James Middleton came over from Hatfield. He tells me a very merry thing that happen’d at Wroot, in the Isle, lately.1 Mr. Parrel there had a great lusty man-servant, but, as appears by the sequell of the discourse, not of very much witt. About two months ago, there comes a maggot into his head to turn padder upon the highway; so he acquaints his master with his resolution.2 “Master,” says he, “I have been two years in your service, and what I get is inconsiderable, and will scarce suffice my expenses; and I work very hard. I fancy,” says he, “that I could find out a better way to live, and by which I should have more ease and more money.” “Ey,” says his master, “pray what is that?” “It is,” says he, “by turning padder.” “Alass! John,” says he, “that will not do; take my word,” says he, “you’ll find that a harder service than mine.” “Well, but I’ll try,” says the man. And so, next morning, away he went, with a good clubb in his hand; and being got in the London road, somewhere about Newark or Grantham, there overtook him on the road a genteel man on horseback. John letts him come up to him, and taking his advantage, he catches hold of his bridle, and bidds him stand and deliver. Upon which he of horseback, being a highwayman himself, he began to laugh that a thief should pretend to rob a thief. “But,” says he, “harken, thou padder, I’m one of thy trade; but surely, thou’rt either a fool or one that was never at the trade before.” “No sir,” says John, “I never was at this trade in my life before.” “I thought so,” says the highwayman; “therefore, take my advice, and mind what I say to you. When you have a mind to robb a man, never take hold of his bridle and bid him stand, but, the first thing you do, knock him down, and, if he talk to you, hit him another stroke, and say, ‘Sirrah! you rogue, do you prate?’ And then,” says the highwayman, “you have him at your will,” etc. Thus they walk’d on for about a mile, the highwayman teaching the other his art; and as they were going a by way to a certain town, they comes to a badd lane. Says the padder to the other on horsback “Sir, I am better acquainted with this country than perhaps you are, this lane is very badd, and you’ll indanger [of] lying fast, therefore you may go through this yate,3 and along the field side, and so miss all the ill way.” So he took his advice, and going that way the padder went the other way, and coming to the place where the highwayman should ride through a gapp into the lane again, this rogue, this padder, stands under the hedge, and as soon as ever he sees the highwayman near him, he lends him such a knock over the head that he brought him down immediately. Upon which he began to say, “Sarrah, you rogue, is this your gratitude for the good advice that I gave you?” “Ah! you villain, do you prate?” And with that gave him another knock. And so, having him wholy at his mercy, he takes almost fifty pound from him and gets upon his horse, and away he rides home to his master at Wroot, by another way, as fast as he could go, and being got home he goes to his master and tell’s him, saying — “Tash! master, I find this a very hard trade that I have been about, as you sayd it would prove, and I am resolved to go no more, but be contented with what I have gott. I have got a good horse here, and fifty pound in my pocket, from a highwayman, and I have consider’d that I cannot be prosecuted for it, therefore I’ll live at ease,” etc.

Abraham de la Pryme


Notes and page design © Gillian Spraggs 2001, 2007
Text added to site on 14 October 2001 | Page last modified on 28 August 2007

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