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Turpin, Dick (1706–39). Highwayman. Dick Turpin became a popular hero and the stuff of legend. He was, in fact, a leader of a gang of Essex ruffians, whose speciality was robbery with violence. He went into partnership with Tom King, whom he accidentally shot in a skirmish. Turpin escaped to York, where he traded in horses, and was hanged on 7 April 1739 for stealing a mare. The story of the celebrated ride to York to establish an alibi was told of John Nevison, or ‘Swift Nick’, who was hanged at York in 1685: it was given fully by Defoe in his Tour, published in 1724. There is no reference to the ride in contemporary accounts of Turpin's life or trial, and the story owed its Victorian popularity to W. H. Ainsworth's novel Rookwood (1834). Turpin and Tom King were a very popular pair of Staffordshire China figures, now collectors' items.
J. A. Cannon
Turpin, Dick (1706–39), English highwayman who was hanged at York for horse-stealing. His escapades (including a dramatic ride from London to York on his horse Black Bess) were romanticized by Harrison Ainsworth in his novel Rookwood (1834).
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