JONATHAN WILD 1682-1725
The so-called Thieftaker General is more godfather than Godsend!
Jonathan Wild, the Thieftaker General, was the man responsible for upholding law and order in early Georgian London. He was also one of the greatest criminal godfathers the city had ever seen, controlling a vast underworld network that saw him grow rich on theft, blackmail and villainy.
When Wild’s network unravelled after a series of catastrophic bungles, the Thieftaker General found himself on the wrong side of the law. He was brutally attacked in the courtroom by Joseph ‘Blueskin’ Blake, a former associate, and went to the scaffold as one of the most notorious, ruthless men the capital had ever known. His was a quintessential morality tale of greed and just desserts, and his downfall had an unrivalled impact on the world of entertainment.
In the years following his execution the Thieftaker General became a familiar influence on authors and playwrights. He was reimagined as Peachum in The Beggar’s Opera (1728), and fuelled countess Georgian satires. Decades later, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle incorporated elements of his character into the genius Professor Moriarty, creating a man who showed the world a respectable facade, behind which he concealed a life of crime that few could ever hope to match.
Jonathan Wild’s hanging was such a big event that tickets were distributed to the public!
Jonathan Wild is pelted by the mob on his way to the gallows at Tyburn