A fog had settled over London on July 28, 1948. All was quiet and seemingly normal. But of course it wasn’t. Visualize if you will a large shipment of gold bullion awaiting transport at London Airport. A gang of evildoers determined to make off with it. And an elite throng of intrepid crimestoppers known as the Metropolitan Police Flying Squad. You have all the ingredients in place for the adventure known as
Jim, who is 96 years old, was born in 1921 and joined the Navy in the second year of the Second World War in 1940, when he was 18. He served on the North Sea convoys before he became part of the Combined Operations Pilotage and Reconnaissance Parties : ‘COPP,’ which had a wartime military base on Hayling Island in Hampshire in 1943 under the instruction of Lord Mountbatten. It was here that he became part of a small team of sailors and soldiers trained as frogmen and canoeists for covert beach explorations prior to landings on enemy
As yesterday [8 March] was International Women’s Day, I couldn’t resist writing a female-related post, and for this one I drew inspiration from a local legend in my area of the ‘Wicked Lady’. If you happen t…
N.B. I’m not currently responding to comments or visiting blogs because of ill-health but I much appreciate your support.
On the 23rd of May 1934, Dallas outlaws and robbers Bonnie Elizabeth Parker and Clyde Chestnut Barrow were ambushed by police and killed in Bienville Parish, Black Lake, Louisiana. Their exploits captu…
I. Crime and Trial On the morning of April 21 1864, M. D. saw her husband to the front door as he left for work, as she did every morning. After he had gone, she returned to the kitchen and murdere…
Dick Turpin (1705-1739) is perhaps the most famous highwayman in English history after Robin Hood (fl. 12th-13th centuries). He is remembered today as a heavily romanticised noble, gallant figure, having allegedly rode his horse from London to York in one day upon his trusty horse, Black Bess, the real Dick Turpin, as you would expect, was a wholly different man. This post gives a brief overview of his life and the legend which grew around him.
Dick Turpin was born in East Ham, in Essex, and received quite a good education, learning how to read and write. It was this good education which, as we will see, proved to be his ultimate downfall. At a young age he was apprenticed to a…
Source: Dick Turpin (1705-1739)
Source: Jack Sheppard (1702-1724)
Jack Sheppard (1702-1724) is one of my favourite thieves, second only, in my opinion, to Robin Hood. He was rather like an eighteenth-century Artful Dodger, a proper cheeky chappie who thumbed his nose at authority, escaping from gaol no less than four times. This post gives a brief overview of his life and legend.
Jack Sheppard was born in Stepney, London in 1702. His father died when he was young, and Sheppard was placed into the care of the Parish Workhouse, where he remained for some time before being apprenticed to a carpenter named Mr. Wood, of Wych Street near Drury Lane. Contemporary accounts such as The History of the Remarkable Life of John Sheppard (1724), the authorship of which has been credited to Daniel Defoe, tell us that Sheppard was in his early years a perfect apprentice.
Sheppard’s downfall into criminal ways, however, seems to be traced to the time…
Source: Jack Sheppard (1702-1724)
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…
Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:
Julius Caesar fought battle near Oss
Archaeologists say they found the final proof that Julius Caesar has marched around in what is now the Netherlands. They have identified the location of a battle in 55 BC in which Caesar defeated two Germanic tribes. Which took place at the present village Kessel in the municipality of Oss.
These two tribes were the…
Louis Dominique Garthausen, better known as Cartouche, was born in 1693 in Paris (although there are also assertions that he was born two years later in Marais). His father was a hardworking cooper who sent Cartouche to school at the Jesuit college of Clermont where at a young age Cartouche, who was described as being of “indifferent” appearance, was taught classical and theological subjects. However, Cartouche’s religious education did not sway him to lead a righteous life, and, in fact, his time at the religious school seemed to have caused the opposite affect as he chose a life a crime.
Cartouche incorrigibleness began at the early age of eleven while he was with the Jesuits. One of his first incorrigible acts occurred when he stole and disposed of…
Many historical novels feature a serving girl who has gotten herself into “trouble.” In fiction, the understanding mistress of the house is quick to intervene and, in short order, the serving girl’s future is secured to everyone’s satisfaction. In reality, female servants of the 19th century were expected to preserve their reputations in order to maintain genteel employment. The character of one’s servants was a reflection on the house as a whole. To that end, no respectable Victorian lady wanted a light-skirt for a housemaid or a wanton for a cook, and many mistresses strictly forbade male callers or “hangers on.”
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In the 1920s, an organized crime ring of female bandits, extortionists, and blackmailers, terrorized London’s West End. The Forty Elephants was affiliated with the male Elephant and Castle Gang, and had existed from about 1865 as a shoplifting outfit.
The Forty Elephants (also known as the Forty Thieves) specialized in robbery, blackmail, shoplifting, and break-ins. The gang’s blackmailing outfit frequented West End hotels and night clubs searching for aristocrats to blackmail. But shoplifting was the gang’s bread and butter.
They made headlines in the tabloids. One newspaper described the Forty Elephants as “amazons.” Others declared that thirty of the Forty Elephants were “big handsome women about six feet tall” of “giant physique” while the others – scouts and lookouts – were…
The Wild West, home of many colourful (often disreputable) characters. Native Americans, gold prospectors, gamblers, cattle ranchers, miners and immigrants scrambled to extend the new frontier. They spread further West in search of their fortunes. With law-abiding, hard-working citizens came criminals. The most notorious were gunslingers, hired guns who’d rob a bank one month, protect a cattle baron the next and then be hired as a town Marshal the month after that. Being a gunslinger didn’t automatically make a man a criminal, some of the best-known were both law enforcers and lawbreakers at different times.
Gunslingers in popular culture.
The popular image of gunslingers comes from cheap novels and films and it’s far more fiction than fact. Hollywood would have us believe that hired guns were either all good (like Gary Cooper’s portrayal in the classic film ‘High…
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A guest post by LH Member Hannah Renier.
Near the Barbican, where the road splits around St Alban’s Church tower, you’ll find Wood Street Police Station. It’s large, historic, and about to undergo a partial rebuild. About twenty of us took the tour on the Saturday of Open House Weekend.
We heard about the origins of the City Police as a citizen force from 1285, the struggle to maintain its independence as a City institution, the years when every applicant for the job had to be six feet one in stockinged feet, and the unbroken tradition of separation from royal influence. To this day, there’s no crown on the cap badge. However there have been abundant crises and changes in 730 years, and at Wood Street a small museum holds a fascinating collection of uniforms, old photographs, weapons, records made long before Data Protection, and memorabilia from famous crimes like…
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