Thomas Blood Biography

(Best Known for His Attempt to Steal Crown Jewels of England from the Tower of London in 1671)

Born: 1618

Born In: Meath, Ireland

Thomas Blood was an adventurous 17th century rogue who rose to the heights of notoriety with his daring attempt to steal the Crown Jewels of England from the Tower of London. He had also made attempts to kidnap and kill his enemies over his outrageous criminal career. The field of crime seemed to be an unlikely choice for this son of a respectable blacksmith who had a comfortable upbringing. However Thomas was highly adventurous and was always on the lookout for excitement which he found by indulging in illegal activities. He was a self-styled colonel who first fought with Royalist forces in the First English Civil War but later switched sides as the war progressed and became a lieutenant on the side of the Roundheads. He once made a plan to kidnap the Duke of Ormonde, James Butler which failed miserably and Blood had to go away in hiding. Now a wanted man in the eyes of law, he changed his disguise, adopted a new identity, and started practicing as a doctor! In an extremely bold move, he made another attempt, albeit unsuccessful, of killing James Butler. It was in 1671 that he made a really audacious move by attempting to steal the Crown Jewels along with a companion. He could not however make good his escape and was caught.
Quick Facts

Also Known As: Colonel Thomas Blood

Died At Age: 62


Spouse/Ex-: Maria Holcroft

children: Holcroft Blood

Born Country: Ireland

Military Leaders Irish Men

Died on: August 24, 1680

place of death: London, England, United Kingdom

Childhood & Early Life
He was the son of a successful and prosperous blacksmith in Ireland. His father owned several pieces of land and gave his son a comfortable upbringing.
He went to England for his education and returned to Ireland.
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Crimes & Incarcerations
He returned to England at the outbreak of the First English Civil War in 1642 and joined the Royalist forces under Charles I. However as the war progressed he changed his mind and joined the opposition, Oliver Cromwell’s Roundheads where he was made a lieutenant.
Charles I was defeated in 1653 and Cromwell rewarded Blood for his services with a large estate and made him a Justice of Peace. However Charles II returned to the throne in 1660 when monarchy was restored.
The restoration of monarchy spelled financial ruins for Blood and his fellow Cromwellians who had to forfeit the rights on the lands granted to them. Blood fled to Ireland with his family.
He hatched a plan to storm the Dublin Castle and kidnap James Butler, 1st Duke of Ormonde and Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, for ransom. The plan was foiled even before it could be implemented and Blood escaped to the United Dutch Provinces in the Low Country.
He became friendly with Admiral de Ruyter, an enemy of the English forces, while in the Dutch Republic. He also became associated with the 2nd Duke of Buckingham, George Villiers.
In 1667 he made an attempt to rescue a friend Captain Mason who was being escorted to York by government men. A war took place between the two parties and in spite of being wounded he successfully rescued his friend. He was once again a wanted man.
He returned to England in 1670 and started living in disguise with a new identity. He took the name Ayloffe and practiced as a doctor in London.
After his return to England, he started planning a second attack on James Butler, Duke of Ormonde. On 6th December 1670, Blood and his men attacked the duke with the intention of hanging him. However the duke managed to escape.
He made an elaborate plan to steal the Crown Jewels in 1671. He became friendly with the Master of the Jewel House, Talbot Edwards and often visited his house. On 9th May 1671, he attacked Edwards and took the St.Edward’s Crown, Sceptre with the Cross and the Sovereign’s Orb along with two of his men. This robbery attempt was however foiled and he was captured.

He was taken to King Charles for trial. To the surprise of many, the king not only pardoned him for his misdeeds, but also gave him a pension.
He had a dispute with the Duke of Buckingham in 1679 and Buckingham sued him for �10,000 for making insulting remarks about his character. He was convicted and granted bail in 1680. He, however, never paid the damages.
Major Crimes
He made unsuccessful attempts to kidnap the Duke of Ormonde, James Butler and had also tried to kill him by dragging him from his coach and trying to hang him.
In a very bold move he attempted to steal the Crown Jewels of England worth � 100,000 from the Tower of England along with his accomplices. This attempt was foiled but still he gained notoriety for being outrageous enough to try this.
Personal Life
He married a girl called Maria Holcroft when he was 20 years old. Maria was the daughter of a gentleman called John Holcroft. The couple had a son, Holcroft Blood who later on became a distinguished military engineer.
He died on 24 August 1680 after falling into a coma. He was so notorious for his trickery that authorities had his body exhumed for confirmation that he was indeed dead.

See the events in life of Thomas Blood in Chronological Order

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