JACK SHEPPARD 1702-1724
No prison can contain a burglar with a talent for escape!
Apprentice carpenter Jack Sheppard’s expensive tastes led him into a life of crime and he had foolproof method: working in a house during the day and returning later to rob it.
Arrested in 1724, Sheppard escaped St Giles’s Roundhouse by fashioning his bedclothes into a rope. Then he broke through the roof and lowered himself to safety. His next escape came later that same year when he and his wife were detained in Clerkenwell. Even chains couldn’t hold Sheppard and the couple filed through their manacles, knotted their bedclothes, and were soon free all over again.
Sheppard’s escapes made him a folk hero. Clapped in irons in Newgate, he slipped his handcuffs and, still in leg irons, climbed up the chimney, broke through several reinforced doors and once again used his favourite bedclothes method to make it safely to solid ground. Sheppard’s luck ran out a fortnight later. This time there was to be no escape from Newgate, nor the 300 pounds of iron that held him down, but he went to the scaffold as a hero.
John Gay celebrated him as Macheath in The Beggar’s Opera (1728), a prison escapee with a comely lover and a dislike for violence, much like the man who inspired him!
Ever the gentleman, Jac wouldn’t leave his wi behind when the pair we manacled in Clerkenwe