Biography of Jailbreaker Jack Sheppard Part 2

About the English jailbreaker Jack Sheppard, biography and history of the man who escaped from numerous prisons.

BUSTING LOOSE--INCREDIBLE ESCAPES

Jack Sheppard

The cocky youth next took in his brother Tom as an accomplice, but the partnership was brief. Caught with stolen goods on him, Tom--hoping for leniency from the crown--squealed on not only Jack but Bess as well, an act that started Jack on his path to fame. Remanded to St. Giles's Roundhouse, Jack soon eeled his way out of a hole in the jailhouse roof. His liberty lasted only a few days. Picked up for a momentary lapse into pickpocketing, Sheppard was hustled to Newgate Prison, along with Bess. Allowed to share a common bed as husband and wife, the two thieves passed their time by using tools slipped in by friendly visitors to file off their leg chains. Once mobile, Jack went to work on the bars in the window and soon took Bess along with him to freedom, escaping from what had been thought to be the "safest" cell in the prison.

Sheppard joined forces with a new associate in crime, a notorious housebreaker known as Blueskin because of his swarthy complexion. The operated out of a stable in London's Westminster section for months, storing their stolen merchandise with William Field. Field was to sell it for them but, greedy for a larger share of the profit, went them one better. He not only restole the goods from Sheppard and Blueskin but also passed on incriminating evidence against them to Jonathan Wild, an infamous highwayman with whom Sheppard had recently quarreled. Wild promptly ingratiated himself with the crown by informing on his two enemies. They were both convicted of capital offenses for their robberies and sentenced to death. The unfortunate Blueskin, unable to break out, died on the gallows.

But Sheppard had other plans. Lodged in Newgate's condemned hold, an underground death-row chamber that sported only a hatch for access, Sheppard managed to file through a hatch bar so that it could be broken off by hand at the right moment. His chance came on Aug. 30, 1724. Huddling with two female friends who ostensibly had come for a final visit before he was to hang, the puny lad snapped off the weakened iron spike, wriggled his scrawny body through the narrow hatchway, and disappeared from custody, hidden by the ladies' petticoats as they left. His freedom lasted one week. He was picked up by Newgate guards acting on a tip and rejailed in the prison.

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