22 September 1704 – Tom Sharp
Today, we head to Covent Garden – the venue of a hanging in 1704. One Tom Sharp got it in the neck for a variety of robberies ranging from being a con-merchant to a murderer.
Volume II of the ‘Newgate Calendar’ revels in details of his unsavoury exploits, which started off mildly enough.
One such time, he dressed up as a clergyman and headed off to a City tavern, which was the known haunt of some ministers. He conned them into thinking he was parson and they fed him and furnished him with around £5.
But his pièce de résistance had to be when he targeted a pub landlord. Knowing full well the publican stashed his cash somewhere about the building, he started a fire, which drew the man to safeguard his money. Sharp kept an eye out for the landlord and clocked where he headed and hence to where he kept the money.
A grand’s day out
Meanwhile the small fire was put out and peace was restored. Tom then returned with two mates and three bits of fluff in tow. One by one, the couples proceeded to the place where the publican kept his money and they helped themselves to it – £500 or thereabouts a piece.
Of course, these are all hangable offences but the serious crime took place later – he was found guilty of murdering a security guard while trying to do over a shoe shop in Holborn, literally just up the road from where he was eventually hanged.
The sentence was death and the 29-year-old was apparently full of bravado right up until the noose was put about his neck. Then he changed his tune and started begging for his life. But it was too little, too late and Sharp fell flat on this day at the turn of the 18th century.