They might have got away with it if they had turned right as they left the Tower, disappearing into the crowds on Tower Hill. But their horses were tethered at St Katherine’s Gate at the end of Tower Wharf, where Tower Bridge now stands. They went that way instead:
‘The Villains got over that Drawbridge, and through the outward Gate upon the Wharf, and made all possible haste towards their Horses, which attended at St Katharine’s Gate… crying themselves, as they ran, “Stop the Rogues!”. And they were by all thought innocent, he being in that grave Canonical Habit, till Captain Beckman got up to them.
‘Blood discharged his Second Pistol at Captain Beckman’s Head, but he stooping down avoided the Shot, and seized upon the Rogue, who had the Crown under his Cloak; yet had Blood the impudence, altho’ he saw himself a Prisoner, to struggle a long while for the Crown.’
Blood was damned if he was going to let it go. Beckman had to snatch it from him, damaging it in the process:
‘In the robustuous struggle for the Crown… the great Pearl and a fair Diamond fell off, and were lost for a while, with some other smaller Stones. But the Pearl was found by Katharine Maddox (a poor Sweeping Woman to one of the warders) and the Diamond by a Barber’s Apprentice…
‘The fair Ballas Ruby belonging to the Sceptre, was found in Parrot’s pocket. So that not any considerable Thing was wanting. The Crown was only bruised and sent to repair.’
HISTORIC LONDON: X MARKS THE SPOT Question 104. Outrageous! How was Blood punished for having the cheek to steal the Crown Jewels?
‘Scintillating’ – Literary Review
‘Sets an example that will be hard to equal’ – Daily Mail
Waterstone’s recommendation of the month