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 Jack Sheppard

Jack Sheppard

Birth
Spitalfields, London Borough of Tower Hamlets, Greater London, England
Death 16 Nov 1724 (aged 22)
London, City of London, Greater London, England
Burial Westminster, City of Westminster, Greater London, England
Memorial ID 10265 · View Source
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Thief. Folk Figure. Born John Sheppard in Spitalfields, London, the son of a carpenter, his father died when Jack was a child and he spent time in a workhouse. He served an apprenticeship as a carpenter and started his career as a thief almost at the same time. Often working in concert with female accomplices and occasionally his brother Tom, Jack beacme a notorious housebreaker and burglar. He was as renowned for his crimes as he was for many escapes from custody. His repeated arrests and escapes were in large part the downfall of the notorious "Thief Taker General" and thief, Jonathan Wild. In one celebrated action, upon the arrest of an accomplice, Elizabeth Lyon known as "Edgworth Bess," Jack visited her at St. Giles Prison and was refused entry. Jack knocked the guard down, broke open the door, and carried Bess off. Jack escaped from St. Giles himself after his first arrest by breaking through the roof. He also escaped from the infamous Newgate Prison three times during 1724. The first time, he filed through his manacles with tools delivered by well wishers. He then made a hole in the wall and used his bedding to climb down from his cell. He was then arrested for stealing one hundred and eight yards of wool cloth, was convicted and sentenced to hang. The same evening the death warrant arrived at Newgate, two women helped him escape by cutting a spike from a window used when talking to visitors. On the lam for about a week, Jack missed London only to return and steal a handful of watches from a shop, putting the bailiffs on his trail again. He was again arrested and kept under close guard, but once left alone he escaped again by climbing out a chimney while still in leg fetters. During his flight, his mother reportedly traveled to St James's Palace to beg a pardon for her son. Jack was recaptured on November 2, four days after his mother's failed mission, and two men were appointed to watch him night and day. Such was his notoriety that The London Daily Journal reported on November 10: "Yesterday petitions were deliver'd to several of the Nobility, on the behalf of John Sheppard the famous thief, house-breaker, and goal-breaker, beseeching them to intercede with his Majesty for his being transported..." to no avail. Jack was taken to Tyburn on November 16. It was possible that he would have again escaped had the guards not been so vigilant about their duties since they discovered a knife in his pocket on the morning of his scheduled execution. He behaved with great dignity at Tyburn and cheerfully confessed to several crimes he had all ready been acquitted of. He died with difficulty, and was greatly pitied by the surrounding crowd. Within weeks of his death an ‘entertainment' based on his exploits was in theatres. His life and career have been the basis for numerous plays and movies through the years and apparently continue to be so.

Bio by: Iola


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 3 Jul 2000
  • Find A Grave Memorial 10265
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Jack Sheppard (c.4 Mar 1702–16 Nov 1724), Find A Grave Memorial no. 10265, citing St Martin-in-the-Fields Churchyard, Westminster, City of Westminster, Greater London, England ; Maintained by Find A Grave .