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Blood, guts and hammers

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Today we celebrate a curious man. Thomas Blood (what a fantastic name… much better than his cousins Percy Kidney and Harvey Lymph-node) was an Irishman who participated in his native land in the civil war on behalf of the Royalists. And then, after a close-shave on behalf of the Parliamentarians. And then, later one, when there were no warty low-lifes around, of the Royalists again (perhaps because he missed the feathers and gold brocade.)

A colourful character, Blood attempted to kidnap and murder the Duke of Ormonde, raised an Irish rebellion against Charles II, raised a rebellion in Scotland a few years later, hid as a wanted man in England, pretending to be a doctor, no less, (glad I didn’t visit him with a medical emergency) and then in his most famous stunt of all time, in 1671 on this very day, dressed as a parson, entered the tower of London and attempted to steal the crown jewels.

This is one of the most interesting men in British history. His insane plans and outrageous disguises make him, to my mind, a hero. In a flash of sheer mad lateral thinking, he realised he couldn’t get the crown out hidden about his person, so he repeatedly hit it with a hammer until it was flat and then slid it under his shirt!

The strange thing is that I don’t seem to be alone in my appreciation of this cheerful and irrepressible lunatic. You see, he was captured before he could leave the tower and dragged before King Charles II. The King who, let’s face it, was a flighty and peculiar man himself, said to Blood “What if I should give you your life?”

Blood replied “I would endeavour to deserve it, Sire!”

Apparently the King was so taken with this miscreant who had been accused of kidnapping, theft, murder, treason and had been a fugitive for many years, that he not only pardoned Blood in entirety, but sent him back to Ireland with £500 a year, somewhat to the dismay of the much-put-upon Duke of Ormonde.

From that time on Blood became a favourite at the Royal court and, just to show that his rascal’s nature never ebbed, when in 1679 he was brought up on charges of slander against the Duke of Buckingham and ordered to pay £10,000 damages (curiously the same amount the crown jewels were supposedly worth) he never actually bothered paying it.

He actually died late in 1680 following an illness in his house in… wait for it… Bowling Alley in London! When he was buried, a few days later, the authorities exhumed him just to make sure he was actually in there. Such was Thomas Blood.

I’ve hardly added any humour to this situation as, if you can’t find humour in the life of Thomas Blood, there’s something wrong with the world.

Have a good weekend



Written by SJAT

January 11, 2011 at 2:45 pm

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