A man called Edward Higgins, son of a Worcester farmer, and his brothers, became notorious for highway robberies and burglaries. In 1754 he was convicted at Worcester, and sentenced to transportation to America, being shipped from Bristol. Within three months he was home again, having broken into a house in Boston, and secured enough to pay for his fare home.
“He resumed his career in Worcestershire, but in 1763, after one of his brothers had been hanged, he settled into the Great House at Frenchay – now called Grove House. It’s been suggested that the huge bolt on the front door and the bars on the window shutters were put in by him.
Adopting the name Hickson he’s described in the Bristol Journal newspaper as, ‘living in a splendid manner’, keeping hunters and being very popular in Clifton society.
He was later arrested and sent to Gloucester to be tried. When no evidence as to his robberies could be obtained, he was liberated upon two sureties of £50 each. Moving to Carmarthenshire he committed two daring robberies for which he was tried at Worcester – but was again liberated for lack of evidence.
Shortly afterwards, however, he was sentenced to death at Carmarthen. Although his execution was postponed more than once owing to powerful influence on his behalf, he was finally executed.
From Winterbourne Gloucestershire by C H B Elliott