Jonathan Wild (born c.1683), probably Britain's most well-known criminal of the 18th century, was known as the director of a 'corporation of thieves'. He learned his 'trade' while serving a sentence in a debtor's prison, and established a curious reputation as 'Thief Taker General of Great Britain and Ireland'. He directed a large band of thieves and felons who dealt in stolen goods, kept the stolen goods himself and waited until the crime and theft was announced in the papers, at which point he would claim that his agents had found them, and would return them to their rightful owners, demanding a fee. Any criminals who would not comply with his organisation were betrayed by Wild to the police. He informed on about 120 men during his career, and all went to the gallows. He himself was arrested on a minor felony charge, found guilty and hanged at Tyburn in May 1725.His gang included Jack Sheppard, housebreaker, Nathaniel Hawes, highwayman, William Burridge, horse stealer, and others, all executed in the 1720s.
John Van der Kiste has written numerous books on British and European royalty. His biographies include Sons, Servants and Statesmen: The Men in Queen Victoria's Life, Emperor Francis Joseph, Kaiser Wilhelm II: Germany's Last Emperor, William and Mary and, with Coryne Hall, Once a Grand Duchess: Xenia, Sister of Nicholas II. He also writes historical articles and reviews for local and national journals, has contributed to the New Dictionary of National Biography, and has also published a novel.
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