40 Incredible Dick Turpin Facts For Kids

After his arrest, Turpin was kept at York Castle to await his execution.
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Here at Kidadl, we love history!

From Kings and Queens to the dawn of new civilizations, there is so much to learn - and 'we can't move forward without looking back,' so the saying goes. If you're wanting to take a step back in time with your children, why not share these amazing Great Fire of London Facts For Kids and Emily Dickinson Facts with them?

Or if you're looking for some horrible history, why not delve into this collection of Dick Turpin Facts.

Dick Turpin Facts

Find out everything you need to know about the legendary highwayman.

1. Richard Turpin, otherwise known as Dick, was an English highwayman.

2. Dick was born at the Blue Bell Inn in Hempstead, a village in the county of Essex, England. He lived from 21 September 1705 – 7 April 1739.

3. Although there are no surviving records, it's believed that Turpin married Elizabeth Millington in about 1725.

4. As a young man, Dick followed in his father John Turpin's footsteps and became a butcher.

5. Later, Turpin became the landlord of a public house, thought to be the Rose and Crown at Clay Hill in the county of Middlesex, England.

6. In the early 1730s, Turpin became involved with a gang of deer thieves called The Essex gang (or sometimes called the Gregory Gang after the brothers who ran it).

7. It's thought that Turpin became involved with the gang because they needed a trustworthy partner to butcher and sell the deer they stole.  

8. By the end of 1734, several of the gang had either been captured or fled, so the remaining members stopped poaching and began raiding homes instead, and Turpin then became directly involved in the thefts.

9. In The London Gazette, Dick was described as "a tall fresh colored man, very much marked with the smallpox."

10. Turpin lived in Whitechapel, an area of London England that became known as the stomping ground of infamous serial killer Jack the Ripper.

Turpin's fictional ride from London to York was on his mare Black Bess.

Dick Turpin Highwayman Facts

Discover exactly what history's most famous highwayman got up to.

11. When The Essex Gang was finally disbanded, Dick turned to the crime he became most famous for – highway robbery.

12. Turpin was first identified (as "Turpin the butcher") as a suspect in a highway robbery on 10 July 1735, along with Thomas Rowden "the pewterer." The two committed many robberies in and around London.

13. Legend says that Turpin first tried to rob Tom King, "The Gentleman Highwayman," before they joined forces, hiding out in a cave in Epping Forest.  

14. After the shooting of Tom King, Turpin went back to Epping Forest but was discovered by a man called Thomas Morris. After shooting him, Turpin went on the run.

15. In June 1737, Turpin assumed the alias of John Palmer and travelled across the River Humber between the counties of Yorkshire and Lincolnshire, posing as a horse trader.

Dick Turpin's Death

Get ready for the grizzly details of how the infamous highwayman met his end.

16. Dick stole several horses while using the pseudonym of John Palmer and it was for these thefts that he was eventually captured and tried.

17. After his arrest, Turpin was kept at York Castle to await his execution.

18. Turpin had no defense because the accused had no right to legal representation during this period of English history.

19. During his incarceration, Turpin frequently had visitors and the gaoler supposedly earned £100 from selling drinks to Turpin and his guests.

20. Turpin was executed by hanging in York on 7 April 1739, aged 33.

21. Turpin bought a new frock coat and shoes for the occasion.

22. Dick also hired five mourners, at a cost of three pounds and ten shillings, who followed the cart and attended the execution.  

23. On execution day Turpin and John Stead (another man convicted of horse stealing) were taken through York by open cart to Knavesmire, a large, marshy undeveloped area in the city of York.

24. As he was led to the gallows, it was reported that Turpin "behav'd himself with amazing assurance" and "bow'd to the spectators as he passed."

25. After he was buried, his body was reportedly stolen by body-snatchers, but was later recovered.

26. Turpin's body is purported to lie in the graveyard of St George's church in Fishergate York, but many dispute the authenticity of the grave and headstone.

Highwaymen would often shout "Stand and deliver!" as they held up coaches.

The Turpin Legend

Did you know that a lot of the legend was invented by William Harrison Ainsworth? You do now!

27. Richard Bayes wrote The Genuine History of the Life of Richard Turpin in 1739, the year Turpin was hanged. Although many believed the book to be a factual account, much of it was fictionalized.

28. In the 1834 novel Rookwood, William Harrison Ainsworth wrote a romance novel that featured the character of Dick Turpin. Turpin's fictional ride from London to York on his mare Black Bess originated from this book.

29. Turpin was portrayed as a likeable character, especially when his horse Black Bess died, and this helped to create a large part of the modern legend surrounding him.

30. In 1846 a wax sculpture of Turpin was added to the collection at Madame Tussauds.

31. Dick's legend has inspired multiple feature films, ballads, stage productions and TV shows.

32. An E-fit (Electronic Facial Identification Technique) was created by the Castle Museum in York in 2009, based on reported descriptions of Turpin from the time.

Facts About Highwaymen

This highwaymen history is sure to amaze and excite.

33. A highwayman was a robber who stole from travelers.

34. A highwayman usually travelled by horse, and were superior to 'footpads' - robbers who travelled on foot.

35. Highwaymen would often shout "Stand and deliver!" as they held up their victims.

36. Highwaymen operated in Georgian Britain from the 17th century until the mid to late 19th century.

37. The decline of highwaymen came about when things like more police, greater use of banknotes and more manned toll roads made it too difficult for them to escape after a robbery.

38. The penalty for violent robbery was hanging at the gallows, and most notorious English highwaymen succumbed to this fate.

39. Some highwaywomen also operated, often dressing as men, one famous example being Katherine Ferrers.

40. Dick Turpin was the most famous highwayman.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for 40 Incredible Dick Turpin Facts For Kids then why not take a look at Robert Burns Facts For Kids, or Mother Teresa Facts For Kids.

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