Stand and Deliver is an intense and thrilling adventure featuring Ned! Highwaymen were feared for their cunning, skills and the danger they provoked on many occasions. Check out the guest post from author Philip Caveney about infamous highwaymen and women!
Ned is awkward, a little shy, and just trying to find his place in the world. He also happens to be the assistant to the nation’s most feared highwayman, The Shadow . . . In a time when highwaymen ruled the roads, Ned is reluctantly swept up into a whirlwind of adventure. Whilst escaping the grasps of the thief-takers, Ned soon finds himself stepping into his Master’s shoes and an unwanted life of crime. The pressure is building with new friends and enemies galore when Ned stumbles upon a long-infamous gem, The Bloodstone, which forces him to make an important choice. Can he ultimately escape this new threat and finally free himself from the grips of The Shadow?
A brief history of Highwaymen by Philip Caveney
There have, of course, been infamous villains all through history, but the term ‘highwayman’ first came into use during the 18th century. Times were hard back then and some people, tired of breaking their backs in order to earn a pittance, turned to the highways to pursue an easier and – provided you were good at it – much more lucrative career.
Wealthy people generally travelled in horse drawn coaches and the general idea was to wait in concealment alongside a main road and then ride out, brandishing a pistol and demand that the passengers handed over whatever they had of value.
‘Stand and Deliver!’ was the traditional cry, though some villains preferred to come up with their own versions of it. ‘Give up your treasures!’ was another popular choice. It was not always an easy matter to rob a coach. As robberies became more frequent, passengers took to carrying firearms on their trips and the chances were that the highwayman might just as easily wind up shot for his troubles.
If one of these villains made a nuisance of themselves for too long, rewards might be offered for their capture, sometimes as much as £200 – a relative fortune back then! And of course, there were ‘thief-takers,’ bounty hunters who were generally quick to rise to the challenge and who were prepared to travel miles in order to claim the reward. The general view was that the villain was worth just as much dead as he was alive.
Dick Turpin was perhaps the best known of these characters, largely because his exploits were made widely available in a novel by William Harrison Ainsworth, a hundred years after his death. In the mid 1700s, Turpin plied his crooked trade around Epping Forest and when things got too hot for him there, he moved to York, where he carried on in a similar vein. He was eventually caught and hanged in 1739.
Another highwayman of note was ‘Gentleman’ Jack Sheppard (also known as ‘honest Jack’) who was as famed for his many daring escapes from prison, as his robberies. The working classes really took a shine to him, seeing him as a romantic figure – but eventually, his luck ran out and he was hanged at Tyburn in 1724.
As the term highwayman suggests, most of these villains were male, but there was one notable exception. Mary Frith – better known as Moll Cutpurse – pursued a short and varied career around London in the late 1600s. She was a pickpocket, an entertainer, a receiver of stolen goods and (for a while at least), a successful highwaywoman.