21 September 1739 – Thomas Lympus
If you thought Crimestoppers was a relatively new initiative, think again. In 1739, an Act of Parliament granted you £200 if you were able to bring in any highway robbers.
It may not sound like much nowadays, but £200 was a small fortune in those days. So imagine if the Postmaster General of the day offered to raise that reward by a further £200 – that gives you some idea of how much they wanted our next bloke.
His name was Thomas Lympus and such was his story that it made it into the gruesome chronicles known as ‘The Newgate Calendar (Volume III)’ – a book charting some of Britain’s most dodgy criminals.
Lympus was a wily old dog. Once he was done robbing a postal coach in the West Country, he didn’t hang around (although more of that later), instead, he hot-footed it over to France.
Gone with God
Of course the lawmen were committed to capturing him, so they followed him over, but he pleaded he was a Roman Catholic and the French church melted and gave him sanctuary away from his Protestant pursuers.
He may well have gotten away with it, had he not got greedy (or homesick, we’re not sure which). He sailed back over and did the same again, robbing yet another mail stagecoach, but this time, instead of sailing back to the safe haven that was France, the boat he was on was forced to turn back.
Back in Dartmouth, he used one of his stolen notes and suspicions centred on Lympus. Well, with a £400 price tag on his head, seven self-styled Boba Fetts with a warrant for his arrest pursued him as far as Kingsbridge, where he was snapped up.
Now they had him firmly in their grasp, there was no way they were going to let Lympus go and he was found guilty of highway robbery and strung up near Wells in Somerset.