Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 52.djvu/71

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strength and ingenuity, he found himself upon the upper leads, but it was necessary for him to retrace his steps to his cell and secure his blanket before he could let himself down the twenty feet which intervened between him and the adjoining roof of a turner's house. This he entered by a garret window, and thence slipped unobserved into the purlieus of Smithfield (cf. Griffiths, Chronicles of Newgate, p. 186). Passing down Gray's Inn Lane into the fields, he spent two or three days in an old house by Tottenham Court. On the Monday, five days after the escape, he went to a cellar by Charing Cross, where all were ‘discoursing about Sheppard.’ He was well supplied with money, which had been advanced to him on account of his dying speech. He next broke into a pawnbroker's in Drury Lane and decked himself out in smart clothes, and drove in a coach, with the windows down, past Newgate. On Friday he treated his mother to three quarterns of brandy at the Sheers Tavern, Maypole Alley, near Clare Market, and then drank himself silly, in which state he was captured and taken back to Newgate. The turnkeys found compensation for the obloquy to which his escapes had exposed them by charging 3s. 6d. a head to all visitors. He was watched night and day until 16 Nov., when his execution at Tyburn was witnessed by over two hundred thousand people. A riot which broke out in regard to the disposal of the corpse had to be quelled by the military with fixed bayonets. He was buried in the old churchyard of St. Martin's-in-the-Fields (where the National Gallery now stands). His coffin was discovered by some workmen in 1866 next to that of the philanthropist, George Heriot (Times, 18 Oct. 1866).

The journals celebrated him in prose and verse, and the ‘British Journal’ (4 Dec.) had a dialogue between ‘John Sheppard and Julius Cæsar.’ Chapmen rang his exploits down every street, and divines exhorted their flocks to emulate him, in a spiritual sense, by mounting the chimney of hope to the leads of divine meditation. The ‘Harlequin Sheppard,’ by John Thurmond (London, 1725, 8vo), was produced at Drury Lane in December 1724; and the ‘Prison Breaker,’ written for Lincoln's Inn Fields in 1725 (London, 8vo), was altered for Bartholomew Fair as the ‘Quakers' Opera’ in 1728 (Genest, x. 157). In more recent times, as a hero of burlesque, ‘Jack’ has found exponents in such actresses as Mrs. Keeley and Miss Nellie Farren. A more lasting fame was conferred by Harrison Ainsworth's ably written romance of ‘Jack Sheppard’ (it first appeared in ‘Bentley's Magazine’ in 1840), which was illustrated by some of Cruikshank's best cuts.

The proclamation for Sheppard's apprehension after his second escape describes him ‘as about twenty-two, five feet 4 inches in height, very slender, of a pale complexion, with an impediment in his speech.’ While in his cell, Sheppard sat to the first portrait-painter of the day, Sir James Thornhill. The portrait, a three-quarter length, dated 5 Nov. 1724, depicts him, a mere boy, sitting in his cell with handcuffs; in the print-room of the British Museum is a facsimile of Thornhill's sketch, which was mezzotinted by G. White, and has been frequently reproduced (cf. Smith, Mezzotinto Portraits, 1585). An engraving, by Hawkins and Simpson, represents him in the New Prison, and an anonymous ‘True Effigies’ shows ‘the exact manner of his confinement in the Castle Room, Newgate.’

The freebooter is to be distinguished from a contemporary ‘beardless villain,’ or rather crazy youth, named James Shepherd or Shepperd (1697–1718), who in January 1717–18, having been ‘a great frequenter of Jacobite conventicles,’ committed to paper and sent to a nonjuring minister, John Leake, a ‘design for smiting the usurper [i.e. George I] in his palace.’ Leake in alarm communicated the letter's contents to Alderman Sir John Fryer, and Shepherd was committed to Newgate, tried for high treason before the recorder, and (with misplaced severity in the case of one who was clearly half insane) hanged on 17 March 1718, on the same day with the Marchese Paleotti. A nonjuring priest named Orme gave him absolution at Tyburn (Oldmixon, iii. 654, 660; Doran, Jacobite London, vol. i.; Hist. Reg. 1718, passim).

[‘A Narrative of all the Robberies, Escapes, &c., of John Sheppard … written by himself during his Confinement in the Middle Stone Room, 1724, with a Plate representing the Manner of his Escape from the Condemned Hold in Newgate, carefully compiled from Sheppard's dying statements,’ is attributed to Daniel Defoe. Eight editions appeared within the year, the ‘Vie et Vols du fameux Jean Sheppard,’ Amsterdam, 1725, being taken from the sixth. A rival compilation was The Authentic Memoirs of John Sheppard, 1724, which formed the basis of a German account, Leipzig, 1765, and of many subsequent lives, one of which dates from Sydney, New South Wales, 1845. A third ‘History of the remarkable Life of John Sheppard,’ October 1724, may, like the ‘Narrative,’ have been by Defoe; but it is perhaps safer to attribute it to ‘one of Applebee's faithful garretteers,’ such as Wagstaff, the acting ordinary of Newgate. By prearrangement with the publisher, Sheppard, shortly before his death, summoned Apple-