Littell's Living Age/Volume 131/Issue 1690/Highwaymen in Partnership

From Notes and Queries.


As an oasis in the desert is the following droll case in the heart of a learned legal treatise. I have just lighted upon it, and note it as an illustration of the, in a twofold sense, amenities of the law, — of the "locos lætos et amæna vireta" juris, and of the considerate and delicate euphemism to which the legal mind can, when need is, condescend. Everet v. Williams, (2 Pothier on Obligations, by Evans, p, 3, note, citing Europ. Mag., 1787, vol ii., p. 360) is said to have been a suit instituted by one highwayman against another for an account of their plunder. The bill stated that the plaintiff was skilled in dealing in several commodities, such as plate, rings, watches, etc.; that the defendant applied to him to become a partner, and that they entered into a partnership, and it was agreed they should equally provide all sorts of necessaries, such as horses, saddles, bridles, and equally bear all expenses on the roads and at inns, taverns, alehouses, markets, and fairs; that the plaintiff and the defendant proceeded jointly in the said business with good success on Hounslow Heath, where they dealt with a gentleman for a gold watch, and afterwards the defendant told the plaintiff that Finchley, in the county of Middlesex, was a good and convenient place to deal in, and that commodities were very plenty at Finchley, and it would be almost all clear gain to them; that they went accordingly, and dealt with several gentlemen for divers watches, rings, swords, canes, hats, cloaks, horses, bridles, saddles, and other things; that about a month afterwards the defendant informed the plaintiff that there was a gentleman at Blackheath who had a good horse, saddle, bridle, watch, sword, cane, and other things to dispose of, which he believed might be had for little or no money; that they accordingly went and met with the said gentleman, and, after some small discourse, they dealt for the said horse, etc.; that the plaintiff and the defendant continued their joint dealings together until Michaelmas, and dealt together at several places, viz., at Bagshot, Salisbury, Hampstead, and elsewhere, to the amount of 2,000l. and upwards. The rest of the bill was in the ordinary form for a partnership account. The bill is said to have been dismissed, with costs to be paid by the counsel who signed it, and the solicitors for the plaintiff were attached and fined 50l. apiece. The case is said to have come before the courts in the early part of the last century, and to have been referred to by Lord Kenyon; "but there is some doubt whether it actually occurred." (Lindley on Partnership, third ed.) John W. Bone, F.S.A.