Dick Turpin: Top 5 Facts about England’s most notorious highwayman

1. He was first caught shooting a chicken

Though Turpin had committed numerous crimes during his life, including murder and robbery, he finally met his comeuppance when he casually shot and killed a prize fowl owned by his landlord. When he appeared at court, the truth of his past life as an outlaw quickly came to light.

2. He started as a rustler

He is famed for being a dashing and daring robber, but Turpin actually started life as a cattle rustler and began his criminal career by stealing two oxen. Comically, he was caught in the act and was forced to flee to escape certain arrest and punishment.

3. He wasn’t a highwayman

Though most interpretations of his life have characterised him as a highway robber, Turpin and his gang mainly broke into farmhouses and stole from the owners. Still, he did terrorise the roads of Epping Forest for a while, before returning to his more familiar pastime of rustling.

4. He didn’t ride from Westminster to York

Legend has it that Turpin rode from Westminster to York in only 24 hours, but this has been proved to be untrue. This story is actually based on a journey made by another criminal, John Nevison, who rode over 190 miles in under 20 hours to provide an alibi for a robbery he committed in Kent.

5. He was executed

On the day of his execution, Turpin was led through the streets of York, bowing nobly to the watching crowds. He was so keen to end his life in pomp and ceremony that he even hired mourners to follow him to the scaffold, where he promptly leapt unaided to his death.

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