Practice English Speaking&Listening with: Colonel Blood's 1671 Theft of England's Crown Jewels

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in may 1671 a disgruntled bitter and banished anglo-irish officer finalized his plan to steal

the crown jewels of england and scotland from the tower of london it was a plan that had been

in the making for quite some time the entire till surrounding britain's crown's jewels theft is so

bizarre that the story could easily be an upper hour theater piece rather than an actual event

the officer even used actors for the entire operation this officer the self-styled colonel

thomas blood had a lie filled with adventure conspiracy and crime and although many of

his exploits speak to the imagination he is best known simply as the man who stole the crown jewels

thomas blood was born around 1618 in sarni county meath in ireland not much documentation

about his early life survives his father was most likely a blacksmith an iron worker

thomas first turns up in historical records listed in a local irish civil survey done in the 1650s

in it he is described as a protestant owning 220 acres of land in his place of birth being in his

late 30s at this point he certainly must have served in the military at one point or another

especially because he lived through the english civil war lasting from 1641 to 52. still mainly

because of thomas's own contradictory statements about this time later in life historians have been

unable to trace his exact career path historians have attempted to piece together thomas's

whereabouts between him reaching adulthood and the 1650s for example thomas does not appear on

any of the major royalist army or regimental list during that time yet the indigent officers list of

1663 does mention a captain blood thomas himself claimed he fought during the english civil war

he served in prince rupert's army against the parliamentarians the historical manuscripts

commission sixth report reveals prince rupert remembered thomas as a very stout bald fellow

so there is a strong case to be made for thomas fighting on the royalist site at least during the

initial stages of the civil war i say initial stages because in 1650 thomas married maria

holcroft her father john holcroft was an english politician who supported the parliamentary army

it appears thomas switched sides as the tide of the war turned against king charles the first and

the royalists enlisting in the parliamentary armies he was promoted to lieutenant the

parliamentary army never promoted him to anything else than lieutenant though nevertheless thomas

would become known in history as colonel blood not in the least thanks to his regular self-promotion

when introducing himself to others initially he referred to himself as captain and as he grew

bolder in his claims he decided his person suited the rank of colonel barely any documentation about

thomas after the english civil war was concluded survives except for a few surveys pointing to

him living on his estate in ireland in 1660 the restoration of the steward monarchy took place

exiled king charles ii returned and thomas lost lands to the new ruler not in the least thanks

to him siding with the parliamentarians during the war it left him both bitter and penniless although

thomas was dead set on making sure he would get his sweet revenge the next few years thomas stood

at the center of a conspiracy carefully in the making the plan was to seize dublin castle and

expel the royalists in may 1663 the plot was uncovered however and thomas fled and hid from

authorities sailing from ireland to england he wandered through northern england until finally

settling in london and occasionally sailing to the united provinces of the netherlands he was

instrumental in organizing the escape of notable rebel captain john mason before disappearing again

he took part in multiple plots over the next few years attempting to get rid of the monarchy all

to no avail and after each one disappearing and evading capture as if it took no effort one of the

most notorious plots before his heist of the crown jewels must have been the abduction and attempted

execution of james butler first duke of armand in 1670 thomas together with several cronies abducted

him from the street with the intent to hang him later on his hatred against the duke of armand

stemmed from the earlier conspiracy to seize dublin castle which was uncovered the executing

of several conspirators led to thomas wearing vengeance against the duke who once again managed

to escape yet thomas's next crime wasn't related to ireland or usurping the throne but simply an

attempt to increase his own riches and perhaps gain a permanent place in the history books

in 1671 bitter and destitute thomas hatched the plot to steal the newly fashioned crown jewels the

parliamentarians had melted down the original ones after king charles the first was executed in 1649

king charles ii ordered the creation of a new set stealing the crown jewels was quite a strange plan

in itself mainly because of the strict security and ample guards in and around the tower of london

yet just one man guarded the jewel house the 76 year old veteran talbot edwards here is

where thomas's plan gets into so much detail and theater that it could easily be an opera

piece his plan required the use of costumes fake titles of nobility and even a fake family with the

spouse and nephew thomas himself enjoyed a raw at the center of deception as a parson although some

sources say he pretended to be a doctor the aim was to befriend all dual housekeeper edwards and

gain his trust thomas visited the tower of london disguised as a parson accompanied with his wife

this initial visit was to scout out the place security and admire the jewels once inside he

struck up conversation with edwards who revealed he lived one floor above the jewels together with

his family for a small fee edwards showed the crown jewels to thomas and the woman playing

his wife upon seeing them the woman faked stomach cramps so violent she had to lie down

the unsuspecting edwards took her upstairs to his apartment so that she could recuperate

as a sign of gratitude several days later thomas returned with a pair of gloves

they were a gift for edward's wife the edwards family warmly received him and during his visit

thomas remarked how their daughter was at an age to marry he could set her up with a

wealthy land-owning nephew of his they eagerly accepted and insisted he'd revisit them soon

on may 9 1671 thomas came by he brought his son playing his wealthy nephew and two others it would

be the last time the family friend swung by he told the edwards family his wife would join them

a little later thomas suggested edwards could show them the crown jewels in the meantime thomas son

remained upstairs to get to know their daughter while the four men made their way downstairs

once at the jewels thomas and his cronies overpowered the old edwards but although he was

old he had a lot of fight in him he made so much noise as he could kicking and screaming until he

was bashed over the head with a club and stabbed in the stomach the men now removed all regalia

from their case one of them shoved a royal orb down his pants and thomas used the club to flatten

the crown the scepter was too long to put in a bag so one of the crooks tried to saw it in half

yet unexpectedly edward's son returned home and called the thieves in the act he immediately

alerted the guards the thieves now fled to the scene with the tower guards in hot pursuit

it didn't take long for all participants of the plot to be arrested although shots were fired none

of the thieves were wounded yet even though this was undoubtedly an offence warranting execution

thomas fared rather nicely after his arrest once he called wind of the attempted theft king charles

ii demanded he'd see thomas guards took him to the palace where he and rupert and other royal

family members questioned him the king must have been impressed with thomas's demeanor because he

granted him a pardon instead of severe punishment he also restored his irish estates introduced him

as a permanent member of his courts and granted him an annual pension as for tolbert edwards his

family was awarded less than 300 pounds the family never received the full summon edwards

passed away not soon after the attempted robbery the rest of his life colonel blood enjoyed a minor

celebrity status across the kingdom of england in august 1680 he passed away at the age of 62.

because of disbelief among the public after his burial the body had to be exhumed to convince

the population he had in fact passed away now in germany a mischievous character akin to colonel

blood was pardoned by the german kaiser after an audacious heist william voight is still remembered

as a rascal and even as a statue in the tiny plunder pretending to be a prussian army captain

i've created a video about his deed if you're interested in that it should be on screen shortly

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The Description of Colonel Blood's 1671 Theft of England's Crown Jewels