Outlaws and Highwaymen

The Confession of the Four Highwaymen
The Confession Of the Four High-Way-Men; As it was Written by One of them, and Allowed by the Rest, London, 1674, pp. 3–4

14 April, 1674

The Confession Of the Four High-Way-Men

Upon the request of a Friend, but chiefly to prevent false Pamphlets which may arise of our Deaths, as it did a[t] our Taking; We have given this Truth under our Hands, the Day before Execution, That on Monday the 16th of March, Walter Parkhurst, James Slader, and John Williams: committed a Robbery upon Windsor-Coach near Hounslow-Heath, being in sight of about a dozen Gentlemen, well Armed and mounted, who pursued us for five or six miles before we could lose sight of them.

That on the 18th of the same Moneth, we the forementioned Parties took John White, and Francis Jackson along with us, and beyond Hounslow in Bedfond-Lane near Stains, Robb’d two Coaches. We struck off from thence into Acton Road supposing our selves discovered by a Gentle mans Man in a Green-Livery, who was a hunting; Who upon the sight of us, made haste the nearest way over the F[i]elds to Acton; we thought it our best course to make Harrow on the Hill, and did suppose our selves pursued all the Way, though we never saw any certain Evidence of it until we came there, where in the Town we found about Forty or Fifty Men ready to receive us with Guns, Pitchforks and all sorts of Weapons, so that we rode down the Hill by the side of the Town, at the bottom of which we found a great number of Horse and Foot ready to receive us; Which we soon made run into the Houses for shelter, and so rode on towards Paddington, and from thence towards Kilburn and Hendon, and from thence to Hampstead-Heath; but was so hotly engag’d all the way by our Pursuers, that it was about ten or eleven a Clock, when we were at Harrow on the Hill, and it was six of the clock when we recovered Hampstead-Heath, our Powder and Shot being all gone, and some of our Swords, and most of us sorely Wounded and Bruised about two of the clock.

There was a Life-Guard Man that fought with a great deal of Courage most part of that day. There was about two hundred Men upon Hampstead-Heath, which was near about an hour before they could take us; having nothing but our Swords, and some of us not them: from thence to Newgate; from thence to the Sessions House, where Parkhurst and Williams pleaded guilty to their Indictments; the others the contrary; but all Cast.1

We write not this as if we glorified in the Action, the Cause being so Criminal and Bad; and yet if the Cause had been good there could not have been a Nobler Defence. And we Wish that all People may take Warning by our Miserable End, which shall be the substance of our Discourse at the Place of Execution: Concluding with a Prayer.

John Williams.
Francis Jackson.
John White.
Walter Parkhurst.


The remaining few pages of this short pamphlet is taken up with an account of the robbers’ trial. They were convicted of murder as well as robbery, since in the course of their long resistance, they killed two of those who were attempting to arrest them. Despite their avowed desire to serve the truth, their own account of events makes no mention of this. Nor does it mention the fate of the fifth highwayman, James Slader, who died in gaol before he could be brought to trial.


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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