Born in Hungerford in Berkshire, he was christened as James Blackman Snook on 16 August 1761. The fact that his name is commonly quoted as Robert Snooks is perhaps due to a corruption of his identity as the “Robber” Snook.
Post Boy John Stevens was travelling from Tring to Hemel Hempstead late one Saturday evening in May 1801. On reaching an isolated part of Boxmoor, he was threatened by a highwayman who it was to believed to have stolen up to £500 from the mail.
The Investigation & Trial
A reward of £200 was offered by the Postmaster General in addition to the £100 offered by Parliament for the apprehending of highwaymen. The London Chronicle reported on the 11th March 1802 that the highwayman had left a broken saddle at the scene of the crime and this mistake later identified Snook as the culprit. Although the Post Boy couldn’t identify Snook due to the darkness at the time of the robbery, one of the stolen bank notes was traced back to Snook’s possession and a chain of circumstantial evidence led to a guilty verdict at his trial in March 1802.
A bar in the nearby Dacorum Pavilion in Hemel Hempstead (since demolished) was named after Snooks, and used the silhouette of a mounted highwayman as its sign. One of the local Explorer Scout Units is also named after him.
- Hands, Joan; Hands, Roger (2004). ROYALTY TO COMMONERS – Four Hundred Years of the Box Moor Trust. Boxmoor, Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, United Kingdom: The Box Moor Trust. ISBN 0-9504532-2-6..
- Yaxley, Susan; others (1981) . History of Hemel Hempstead. Amplion Press: Hemel Hempstead Local History and Records Society. ISBN 0-9502743-0-5.