"with him died away that passionate love of enterprise" - Dick Turpin hanged for horse theft in York

"... with him died away that passionate love of enterprise, that high spirit of devotion to the fair sex, which was first breathed upon the highway by the gay, gallant Claude Du-Val, the Bayard of the road—Le filou sans peur et sans reproche—but which was extinguished at last by the cord that tied the heroic Turpin to the remorseless tree." (William Harrison Ainsworth, 1834)

7 April 1739: Today, 274 years ago, the highwayman Dick Turpin was hanged for horse theft (of all things...) at the York Tyburn, the northern capital's public execution place at Knavesmire.




Originally 
a butcher's apprentice, Dick Turpin began a criminal career as poacher, then thief, then a member of the notorious Essex gang who specialised in breaking into houses and putting the missus over the fireplace to make her reveal where the valueables were hidden and other endearing methods - the notorious gang was broken up in 1735 and Dick Turpin escaped.

He started a solo career in the venture he became famous for - being a highwayman, i.e., holding up coaches and robbing the passengers for two years until he had to flee north and began anew as horse trader with casual emoluments as horse thief, a capital offence in the 18th century, and was finally found out and hanged.

Why exactly this bad lot became a Georgian Robin Hood in the view of the penny dreadfuls and balladeers of the 19th century is not exactly obvious. However, he was attributed with stealing from the rich, giving to the poor, chivalry and an overnight ride from London to York on his mare Black Bess, the idea actually being stolen from a Defoe story.

However, the story continued well into the 20th century, establishing the image of Dick Turpin and the trade of the highwayman as a noble robber.

More on:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dick_Turpin