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Answer 104. Thomas Blood was pardoned for stealing the Crown Jewels! Apparently amused by his impudence, King Charles II let him go free and arranged for his Irish income to be restored to him.

A few weeks later, a diarist met him at dinner:

‘At Mr Treasurers where dined… one Bloud that impudent bold fellow, who had not long before attempted to steale the Imperial Crowne it selfe out of the Tower… How he came to be pardoned, & even received to favour, not onely after this, but severall other exploits almost as daring… I could never come to understand.

‘Some believed he became a spie… & did his Majestie services that way… The Man had not onely a daring but a vilanous unmercifull looke, a false Countenance, but very well spoken, & dangerously insinuating.’

Blood had hammered the crown flat in an attempt to hide it under his cloak. It was returned to the Tower of London after repair and still lives there. The crown was looking splendid when Queen Elizabeth II wore it at her coronation in 1953.


De QuinceyIn 1821, a penniless author with a wife and child to support rented a room at this house in Tavistock Street (known then as York Street). He wanted to write a long article here about drug addiction.

Unfortunately, the author was being followed by debt collectors. They would have him imprisoned if they caught up with him.

The author therefore decided to disappear for a while. Carefully checking the street for duns, he slipped out on 9 August and vanished for the next eight days, taking his unfinished manuscript with him. The sooner he could complete it, the sooner he could sell it to the London Magazine and pay off his debts.

HISTORIC LONDON: X MARKS THE SPOT. Question 105. Who was the author? What was the title of his manuscript?

Where were you at Waterloo? Cover









‘As sharp as Evelyn Waugh and sometimes better’ – Times Literary Supplement
‘Good, clean fun’ – Daily Telegraph
‘Pure comic pleasure’ – Spectator