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 • London Borough of Camden
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Joseph "Blueskin" Blake
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Birth: 1700
City of London
Greater London, England
Death: Nov. 11, 1724
City of London
Greater London, England

Highwayman. He was known to all by the alias "Blueskin". The son of Nathaniel and Jane Blake, he was baptized at the Church of All-Hallows-the Great in London on October 31, 1700, and was sent to the parish school of St. Giles-without-Cripplegate for about 6 years. He was said to have been involved with crime since childhood when he was introduced by a school friend, William Blewitt, to "Thief-Taker General" (and thief) Jonathan Wild in 1714 and had been singled out from an early age. From the age of 15, Blake was in and out of prison, and was said to have suffered hardships on the streets of London before he left school and turned to a life of crime. At age 17 he worked as a pickpocket under Edward Pollit and earned the nickname Blueskin for reasons unknown. He worked with Irish highwayman James Carrick in 1719, and became highwayman himself. Blueskin, along with Wild, met his colleague Jack Sheppard at the Black Lion Tavern off Drury Lane in about 1722, before he became a member of a gang of street robbers led by Robert Wilkison; during the summer, Blueskin escaped capture and execution due to the influence deployed by Wild. In December 1722 he wounded himself in a frenzy by a saber cut to the head for resisting arrest by Wild. He was refused the offer of money for testifying to Wild against his partners, who had been hanged in February 1723 in a robbery, and was taken to Wood Street Counter in London, where Wild paid him a weekly allowance for freedom and for the treatment of the wound. After he was released for good behavior in June 1724, Blueskin joined forces with Sheppard, and they started working together, fencing the goods through William Field, one of Wild's men. By that time, Wild was growing suspicious of Blueskin and Sheppard. On July 12, Blueskin, Sheppard and Field burglarized the home of Sheppard's former master, William Kneebone, and a week after Field left, the two of them turned their talents to highway robbery while Field informed on them to Wild. After Sheppard was arrested at Blueskin's mother's brandy shop on July 23, her son is said to have continued the robbery without him as best as he could. In early October, Blueskin was arrested by Wild and his men, and on October 15, he was tried at the Old Bailey, convicted, and sentenced to death. After the trial, Blueskin pleaded with Wild in the courtroom to have his sentence reduced from hanging to transportation. When Wild refused, Blueskin became angry and made a failed attempt to murder him, slashing his throat with a penknife and causing an uproar, and aiding in Sheppard's fourth escape (which ended in his final capture). From that day on, Blueskin became known in London as a highwayman famous for attacking Wild in the courtroom, until he was hanged on November 11, 1724, five days before his colleague Jack Sheppard's execution at Tyburn. Blueskin was buried at St. Andrews Churchyard at Holborn. He is memorialized in "Blueskin's Ballad", reputedly written by Jonathan Swift, and the attack on Wild, leading to Wild's downfall, was the inspiration for John Gay's ballad "Newgate's Garland", which appears in the play "Harlequin Sheppard" by John Thurmond; Blueskin also appears in many accounts and plays on Sheppard's life, though the characterization often bears little resemblance to his reality that was overshadowed by Sheppard's fame. 
 
Burial:
St Andrew Churchyard
Holborn
London Borough of Camden
Greater London, England
 
Maintained by: Find A Grave
Originally Created by: Debbie Kearns
Record added: Oct 01, 2007
Find A Grave Memorial# 21864647
Joseph Blueskin Blake
Added by: Debbie Kearns
 
 
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- Deb
 Added: Nov. 12, 2015

- Deb
 Added: Dec. 1, 2014

- Lance
 Added: Feb. 14, 2014
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