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Red Handed

May 9, 2020

The passing of time could easily dismiss Colonel Thomas Blood as a rogue, crook and traitor. After all it’s 349 years to the day that he almost pulled off the most audacious heist in British history; stealing the Crown Jewels from the Tower of London.

While it’s true he attempted kidnap and royal insurrection on more than one occasion the self-titled Colonel was in fact a master of disguise, wit and charismatic cunning. Attributes that won him a King’s pardon and a respected place in the royal court.


Born in 1618 in Ireland, Blood came from English descent and was schooled near to Broken Clock’s distillery in the North West.

By his twenties he had lands, wealth and status thanks to his allegiances during the Civil War - during which he only switched sides once.

Following the restoration of King Charles II in 1660, Blood faced bankruptcy and undeterred, took it upon himself to gently convince the monarchy to return his land through a series of kidnappings, ransoms and canny plots.

Blood was soon England’s most notorious man - spoken of in every tavern in the land - and falsely blamed for many crimes including starting the Great Fire of London.

In truth Blood was laying low - disguised as a catholic priest and then working under the alias of a surgeon - while planning his final and most daring attempt to win back his titles.

In May 1671 Blood used his charm to befriend the Master of the Jewels at the Tower of London, gifting four white gloves to his wife in the process, before visiting one evening and overpowering them with just some light stabbing and persuasive malleting.

Through dreadful luck Blood was captured red handed during the escape, imprisoned and interrogated.

He insisted on speaking to no-one but the King himself and rather than ordering him to be hung, drawn and quartered, Charles is said to have fallen for the Colonel’s pizzazz and humour, granting him not only a full pardon but also restoring his lands in Ireland.

Even in death Blood’s reputation lived on and when he passed away in 1680 owing the Duke of Buckingham £10,000, his body was exhumed to dispel rumours that he’d in fact faked his own death to escape payment.