‘Stand and Deliver!’

These days when we order online or post a parcel, we know that we can trust our delivery network and chances are we will receive our parcel in good condition and on time, or our recipient will. For Bracknell Couriers, visit http://www.uk-tdl.com/.  It wasn’t always so easy, convenient and trustworthy though as traveling through this country used to be a rather dangerous affair!

No doubt you’ve heard of the infamous highwayman, Dick Turpin. His name lives on as a myth from a period we tend to romanticize. He was certainly no Robin Hood figure though and what he robbed, he very much kept for himself. Stagecoaches that were used to transport people and goods were often terrorised by highwaymen on horseback with masked faces. It was a serious offence though and was punishable by hanging.

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Is the image of Dick Turpin as some kind of romantic legend, correct? Apparently not. It turns out he didn’t have a horse called Black Bess and he didn’t ride said horse all the way to York during the night! In fact, his name would have been forgotten from history were it not for a novel written in 1834 called Rookwood by Harrison Ainsworth. This novel inspired the legend that surrounds Dick Turpin today.

The real Dick Turpin was born in 1705 and became an apprentice butcher as young man. Maybe through boredom or a desire for riches, he joined an Essex gang and began stealing. With his butchery skills, he was useful to have around for cattle stealing. Far from being the stuff of romantic legend, his criminal acts became more deplorable, including burglary of farmhouses, pouring boiling water over an elderly farmer and other nasty deeds. He soon became a murderer too when he killed a servant called Tom Morris, who recognised him as a criminal.

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Things only got worse for this scoundrel, who joined forces with another highway robber, only to kill him in a botched robbery attempt! He decided to disappear north from Essex and began stealing horses instead. He stole them in Lincolnshire and travelled to Yorkshire to sell them, changing his name to John Palmer.

Far from keeping a low profile, John Palmer shot a chicken and threatened to shoot its owner, which resulted in him being in trouble with the law. Whilst incarcerated, he wrote a letter to his brother-in-law which was seen by Turpin’s old teacher. The teacher, James Smith, recognised the handwriting and Turpin’s cover was blown. The teacher collected £200 in reward money and Turpin was sentenced to be hanged in York. All those cunning exploits and his downfall was a chicken and a letter!

Thankfully, our roads are much safer today and we don’t have to fear ourselves or our possessions being intercepted and robbed. It must have a tense and stressful job being a stagecoach driver in the 18th century. Not only did you have highwaymen to look out for but the journeys were long, uncomfortable and cumbersome, with regular stops needed to refresh and change horses before continuing.