The Highwayman In your exam you will be asked what factors led to the rise of highway robbery in the late 1600s, and what factors led to their decline in the early 1800s......
There is a long history in England of treating highway robbers as heroes. Originally they were admired because in a tough, male-dominated society they were considered to be bold men who confronted their victims face-to-face and were ready to fight for what they wanted
Some highwaymen robbed alone, but others operated in pairs or in small gangs. They often targeted coaches, including public stagecoaches; the post-boys who carried the mail were also frequently held up
Highwaymen often lay in wait on the main roads radiating from London. They usually chose lonely areas of heath-land or woodland. Hounslow Heath was a favourite haunt; it was crossed by the roads to Bath and Exeter.
Thornton Heath was an isolated and desolate spot, much frequented by footpads and highwaymen. To deter them, a gallows was erected opposite the pond and numerous brigands were executed there as a punishment for their crimes and as a warning to others. On March 31, 1722 a mass execution took place when six men were hanged there and the following year four felons dangled from their nooses at the same spot. The gibbet was a well-known sight on the London Road and early maps refer to the area as Gallows Green.