Thomas Blood (c. 1618-1680) was such a rogue that after he died in 1680, his body was exhumed to check he was really dead. But his most audacious stunt was surely his attempt, dressed as a clergyman, to steal the Crown Jewels.
AFTER the restoration* of King Charles II in 1660, one of Oliver Cromwell’s old lieutenants, Thomas Blood, was living in Dublin.
There, after stealing a cow, he was also implicated in a plot to kidnap the Duke of Ormond, but alone of the conspirators escaped hanging. Indeed, conspiracies against the King sprang up wherever he went, but the conspirators were always caught - all except one.
On May 9th, 1671, Talbot Edwards, Keeper of the Regalia in the Tower of London, was proudly showing off the Crown Jewels to a clergyman whose handsome nephew was courting his daughter, when he was suddenly wrapped in a cloak, bound, gagged and stabbed.
The faithless parson then made off with the Crown of England, confusingly shouting ‘Stop thief!’ as he went.
After a brief pistol volley Thomas Blood - of course it was Thomas - was arrested. He named three conspirators at the Navy Pay Office, and received a Royal Pardon together with a £500 annual pension.
Crime, it would seem, sometimes pays.
* In 1649, King Charles I was executed in a military coup, and for 11 years England became a republic under Oliver Cromwell, the ‘Lord Protector’. In 1660, Parliament begged Charles I’s son to come back as King.