So committed to historical accuracy were Alexander Smith and Charles Johnson that in their respective History of the Lives and Robberies of the Most Noted Highwaymen (1714) and Lives and Exploits of the Most Noted Highwaymen (1734) they give us the life of Sir John Falstaff.
Falstaff lived, we are told by Smith and Johnson, during the reigns of Henry IV and Henry V. Being born of no great or distinguished parentage, they tell us that Falstaff took to the road with three accomplices to support his extravagant lifestyle. He was a very fat man, and his nicknames were:
– Ton of Man (a pun on the Biblical term ‘Son of Man’)
– Sack and Sugar
– Fat-Kidneyed Rascal
Apparently Henry IV, who Smith tells us took to life upon the road for a short while, said to him:
You are so fat-witted with drinking of old sack, and unbuttoning thee after supper, and sleeping upon benches in the afternoon.
He was also a womaniser, and could often be found in the lowest bawdy houses of London, according to Capt. Charles Johnson.
Then came the wars of the roses, we are told by Smith and Johnson, and as a consequence of his acquaintance and friendship with King Henry, Falstaff received a commission to serve as a…