The Tale of the Dandy Highwayman

Dandy Highwayman

In this day and age you can expect to put a letter or parcel in the post and be pretty sure that is it going to get there. To be double sure you may well decide to use a Same day Courier Service for extra speed such as the ones at http://allaboutfreight.co.uk/same-day-courier-service. It would be highly unlikely if the company came back to you and said “terrible sorry, we lost your parcel a masked man on a horse came out of the woods and stopped the driver ordering him to stand and deliver”. However if you were living in the time of the Restoration in Britain (1660 to 1714) you’d have probably shrugged your shoulders and thought that’s part of life and the postal service. You’d then have moaned about the excise men not doing anything about these damnable highwaymen.

Dandy Highwayman

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This was a bit of a social problem in the late seventieth, early eighteenth century. The Highwayman, although there were a few notably lady ones too, were common thieves but they were thought of a bit more highly than foot based robbers because they’d shown a bit of effort. Regardless of them looking good while they were doing it this was still a violent crime and it was not unheard of for the poor driver and his co-driver to be shot and injured. However this doesn’t seem to have stopped us from branding the Highwayman as the Knight or Gentleman of the Road and the general stories about them go that they were lovable rogues who liked to spend their ill-gotten gains in the local hostelry on beer, liquor and a flirtation with syphilis as they bedded the barmaid. The excise men would know where they were and would storm the pub (which would be renamed the Highwayman in later years after all the fuss had died down and it was better than the Pig and Fiddle anyway) and the Dandy Highwayman would cleverly escape though a backdoor into the night but still having time to give Nell the barmaid a quick kiss before he left.

Dandy Highwayman

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The favourite spots for the Highwayman was the Great North road and anywhere the road ran through desolate spot. In those days places like Putney heath and Streatham Common were rich hunting grounds as the Highwayman waited for the rich making the trip to the Brighton but London itself was also a favoured spot. It got so bad in Hyde Park that King William the Second paid for oil lamps between the Palace at St James and Kensington making it the first highway in the country to be lit artificially.

The punishment for highway robbery was hanging but the myth of the Dandy highwayman was cemented here too at the gallows as it is said they many of them laughed and joked with the crowd earning a respect and admiration that still hangs around today.

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