Highwaymen lived quick and (often) died younger. However they weren’t simply any previous bandits. Whereas not all of them gave to the poor, they solely ever stole from the wealthy and thus tended to see their crimes (as plenty of the general public did too) as primarily morally righteous—or not less than no worse than their victims’.
Final time we did a listing on this matter, we went with some quirky examples—particularly ladies and a person referred to as Sam Poo. However as commenters had been fast to level out, this left some obvious omissions. The most effective ideas are listed beneath, together with another large names.
10. Willie Brennan (18th c.-?)
It’s attention-grabbing to notice how most of the finest recognized highwaymen, bandits, and bushrangers world wide had been of Irish descent. Jesse James, Black Bart, Ned Kelly, and others might all hint their roots to the Emerald Isle. But we all know comparatively little concerning the ones who stayed there.
All we actually learn about Willie Brennan, for instance, is from a ballad about his life. In line with the tune, he haunted the hills round Limerick and preyed on the wealthy along with his pistols. Considered one of his victims went on to turn into his confederate, having been robbed of his cash, watch and chain and “robbed [Willie] again once more.”
Sadly, he was later betrayed by one other acquaintance and brought prisoner by the cavalry. Each he and his confederate had been hanged and the ballad ends along with his goodbyes—even to his “loving mom, who tore her grey locks and cried, / Saying ‘I want, Willie Brennan, in your cradle you had died.’”
One other model of the ballad hints at his continued existence: “They hanged Brennan on the crossroads, in chains he hung and died, / However nonetheless they are saying that, within the night time, some do see him journey. / They see him along with his blunderbuss, all within the midnight chill. / Alongside, alongside the King’s freeway rides Willie Brennan nonetheless!”
9. John Nevison (1639-1684)
Typically referred to as William, generally referred to as John (and generally Swiftnicks or Tom), Nevison is fondly remembered as the politest highwayman in Britain. Like so many others, he robbed from the wealthy and gave to the poor, however at all times within the politest means potential. He didn’t even think about it theft, however relatively a “quarterly tribute on all of the northern drovers.” In return, he promised to guard them from bandits.
These days, he’s in all probability finest recognized for his daring evasion of seize in 1676, a narrative that grew to become so legendary in its personal proper that different highwaymen usually took credit score (together with Dick Turpin, who wasn’t even born on the time). Having been recognized in a pre-dawn hold-up down south, Nevison fled again up north to safe a watertight alibi: playing on bowls with the Lord Mayor of York—simply 15 hours later. Since no person thought it was potential to journey 227 miles in so quick a time, and for the reason that Lord Mayor himself might attest to Nevison’s whereabouts, the well-heeled highwayman was allowed to go free.
Ultimately, although, following quite a few different shut shaves, he was betrayed by an innkeeper and arrested whereas drunkenly asleep in a chair. Tried for freeway theft, in addition to the homicide of a constable, he was hanged at York in 1684.