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Dick Turpin and his contemporaries

Inspired by this Kindred Spirits post, I began by reflecting on the fact that Richard (Dick) Turpin and Richard Neville, Earl of Salisbury and thus Richard III’s uncle, were both executed in York. Turpin had relatively few connections in the north, but many with Essex, from his education near Saffron Walden to his nefarious activities with the Gregory Gang in and around Epping Forest.

Many of our readers will remember this ITV programme, with Richard O’Sullivan, between 1979 and 1982, although this Turpin was remarkably sprightly for one who had been hanged, buried, disinterred and reburied in quicklime.

Incidentally, given the events of recent years, here is a Jack Shepherd (sic) who committed serious offences and escapes – four times in his case, before a final recapture and hanging a few years earlier than Turpin.

A fictional treason case

In real life, there wercrowncourte no high treason cases in the United Kingdom after 1946 and no peacetime cases after 1913. However, regular viewers of Crown Court, which was shown on ITV from 1972-84, will have seen an episode in which a Congolese man was convicted and sentenced to death during that time. The episode ended before we were appraised of the prisoner’s ultimate fate but, until 1973, had a reprieve not been forthcoming, he could have chosen beheading as his mode of execution.

Here is the evocative closing theme, Peter Reno’s Distant Hills, played by the Simon Park Orchestra. There is also a snatch of “Jeremy Parsons QC” (Richard Wilson, with hair) examining a young Zoe Wannamaker in a rather less serious case. Many of the episodes are on YouTube. Does one of our readers have a link to the Congo treason affair?

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