Riding, Riding...



On Hounslow Heath as I rode o'er I spied a lawyer riding before. “Kind sir,” said I, “are you afraid, Of Turpin, that mischievous blade?”

O rare Turpin hero, O rare Turpin O

The ballad Turpin Hero was, by all accounts, written and published as a broadside just before Turpin was hung which just goes to show that fake news is not new. The writer and publisher must have known that Turpin was a nasty piece of work, but the tragic execution of a romantic villain set to a hummable tune clearly sold a deal better.

As I write the Mexican drugs baron 'El Chapo' is standing trial. Almost certainly responsible for the murder of hundreds of people his mother is, apparently, very proud of him. We tend think of celebrity culture as a recent phenomenon but the cowardly (and seemingly rather stupid) Turpin seems to have made the most of his celebrity once he was imprisoned in York - and to have played his part well on the gallows.

The image above is borrowed from York Prison and based on descriptions of Turpin from documents of the time. I'm looking forward to hearing Stephen Poulter's talk on Sunday 25th. November for all the 'gory detail' and also to hear what on earth he was doing in Bungay (apart from robbing people).


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