Monday, 12 March 2007


The greatest burglar of the 19th century was Charles Peace, a rubber faced, small and agile man born in 1832. A cat burglar for over 20 years around Manchester/Leeds and later London, by day he'd ride a cart, going into houses looking for unwanted furniture, identifying valuable goods and breaking in on a night with his tools in a violin case.
He had many personas and postures to evade detection. He murdered twice - a policeman in Manchester and a Mr Dyson, husband of a woman he was trying to seduce. He was finally arrested after shooting another policeman whilst trying to escape.
Not knowing who he was - the police thought his name was John Ward - he was found guilty of attempted murder, but a girlfriend identified him for the reward and he was sent to Leeds to face murder charges. On the train journey he tried to escape by somersaulting out of the window, but landed on his head. He was hanged in Leeds in 1879.

(c) Anthony North, Feb 2007

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