Jail Breaks Lord Nithsdale Escapes the Tower of London Part 2

About the famous jailbreak of Lord Nithsdale from the Tower of London, history of the prison break.



Lord Nithsdale's Escape From the Tower of London--1716

Lady Nithsdale left Evans and Mrs. Mills halfway as she went with Miss Hilton to the cell. She took care to address her companion when guards were within hearing as "Catherine." Once inside the cell, Miss Hilton took off the larger riding hood. When she left, Lady Nithsdale urged her to send her maid quickly. The strategy was simply to confuse the guards with as much to-ing and fro-ing as possible. Mrs. Mills then appeared. She moved clumsily and kept her head low, with a handkerchief to her eyes as if she were sobbing. Lady Nithsdale welcomed her as "Betty" and shepherded her forward. Inside the little cell, Mrs. Mills exchanged her cloak for the one left by Miss Hilton. Several minutes later she emerged a different woman, walking briskly and erect, and wearing a better-fitting garment. As Lady Nithsdale saw her out, she called her "Catherine" and told her to hurry and fetch the maid.

Lady Nithsdale now set about disguising her husband to pass for "Betty." She painted out his dark eyebrows, rouged his swarthy cheeks, and hid his black beard with scarves. She slipped out of the extra petticoats she was wearing and arranged them on her husband so that they hung low over his thick, well-muscled calves. Then over the top she put the riding hood Mrs. Mills had worn. Despite their apprehension, they couldn't help smiling.

In the fading afternoon light, Lady Nithsdale led her husband out of his cell. She called him "Betty" and held his arm as he stumbled along, head on chest and dabbing his eyes with a handkerchief. The sentries nodded respectfully as the fussing women passed, Lady Nithsdale chatting all the while and bemoaning the absence of her maid. When Evans took over as escort, Lady Nithsdale hurried back to the cell. She paced up and down, spoke as if her husband were still there, and imitated his voice in reply. When she felt sure he had left the tower, she wished him good night and shut the door of the empty room. She asked the guard to leave him in peace for five minutes, for he wished to pray.

While all this was happening, a warrant was being signed for Nithsdale's execution the next day. When King George heard that the Scot had escaped, his initial anger gave way to resignation: "For a man in my Lord's situation, it is the very best thing he could have done!"

Nithsdale was sheltered for 48 hours in a room at the top of a flight of stairs in a friend's house; then, through a contact at the Venetian embassy, he was taken to Calais disguised as a diplomatic courier. Lady Nithsdale joined him later, and they subsequently settled in Rome. They had little money and few possessions but lived the rest of their days in quiet and graceful poverty.

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