"Galloping Dick" Ferguson

Richard Ferguson was a contemporary and partner-in-crime of Jerry Abershaw, by whom he was introduced to highway robbery. Ferguson was employed as a postilion at the time of their meeting -- he had had several such jobs previously and lost most of them by getting into various types of trouble, usually involving compromising positions. 

The circumstances of their meeting are interesting: Ferguson had taken up with Nancy, a rather high-class prostitute of expensive tastes, whom he kept unawares of his lowly social station. She had a goodly number of other gentleman callers, included some noted highwaymen, Abershaw amongst them. One day the chaise that Ferguson was driving was held up by a pair of highwaymen, one of whom was unmasked by the wind. Ferguson recognized the man as Abershaw, whom he had seen at Nancy's house. The highwaymen made their escape, but knowing he had been recognized, Abershaw waited for Ferguson at an inn where he was expected to stop to water the horses, and successfully bribed him to silence, arranging to meet him again the next evening. 

However, Nancy in the meantime had discovered Ferguson was only a common positilion, and when he called on her with his sudden wealth, she slammed the door in his face. 

Ferguson kept his appointment with Abershaw, and accepted an offer of partnership with him, in which he kept his job as postilion and imparted information about travellers to Abershaw who would then do the robbing part. All went well for a while, until Ferguson got dismissed from his job for unreliability. It was around this same time that Abershaw was arrested. 

Following Abershaw's execution, Ferguson actively took to highway robbery himself, and survived for another 5 years on the road, partly due to his skills as a horseman which gave him his nickname. He was finally apprehended by the Bow Street Runners, tried at the Aylesbury Lent Assizes in 1800 and executed shortly thereafter. 

Newgate Calendar entry on Richard Ferguson

 

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