In the Gentleman’s Magazine, October 1764, between a report on the tide and one on the price of hops, lies the following report on the murder of Mrs. Ruscombe and her maid:
“Mrs. Frances Ruscombe and her maid, were most barbarously murdered at her house on College-Green, Bristol, in the open day, by persons unknown, who robbed the house, and carried off money to a considerable amount. Mrs Ruscombe was found with her throat cut, a wound in her mouth, one of her eyes beat out, and her skull beat into the brain. The maid was found with her head almost severed from her body, her haw broke, a violent blow on her forehead, and her skull cleaved as with a wedge.”
Higgins was only rumoured to have committed this crime. Nobody was ever convicted. If he was responsible, the detail here is an interesting foil to the peculiar romanticism of the image of Highwaymen in fiction.