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King Charles I (1625-1649)
An Agent of the Crown : Rascally republican Thomas Blood was usually to be found in any conspiracy against the King, but even when he stole the Crown Jewels the King never seemed to mind...
An Agent of the Crown

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.

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Picture: © Phillip Barlow, Wikimedia Commons. Licence: Public domain. View original
Not taking any chances... a sentry from the Queen’s Colour Squadron (right) relieves the sentry from the Coldstream Guards outside the Jewel House at the Tower of London.
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