Attempt to steal the Crown Jewels

Extract from a hand-written newsletter to Mr Kirke, 9 May 1671, (Catalogue ref: SP 29/289/187).

After the execution of Charles I in 1649 many of the Crown Jewels were sold or destroyed. When the monarchy was restored in 1660, two new sceptres and an orb were made for the coronation of Charles II in 1661. Charles II allowed the Crown Jewels to be shown to members of the public for a viewing fee paid to a custodian who looked after the jewels at the Tower of London. In 1671 Thomas Blood was the first and only man who attempted to steal them. After that, the Crown Jewels were kept under armed guard in a part of the Tower known as the Jewel House.


The 5th, 5 men coming on horseback to the Tower at about 6 in the morning 3 allighted whilst the other 2 held their horses these 3 went into the Tower to see the Crowne, one a Clergy habit & when admitted two of them who went in to the rooms whilst the other 3rd stayed at the door bound wounded and gagged Mr. Edwards who had the custody of it and carried away the Crowne, Mr. Edwards son coming in and finding his father in that condition pursued, one of the villains shot at him but mist him, as also the sentinels but they were soe closely followed that 2 were taken about the Iron Gate old Blood who went under the name of Ailoffe, the priest disguised & one Perot & afterward young Blood by a fall from his horse about Gravell Lane who went under the name of Hunt and was the same that seized the Duke of Ormond. They were brought to Whitehall & sent to Custody the other 2 escaped.

Simplified transcript

The 5th: Five men on horseback came to the Tower at about 6am. Three [men] got off and went into the Tower to see the Crown whilst the other two men held their horses. One had on a clergyman’s robes, when let in two of them went into the rooms and the third stayed behind the door, bound, wounded and gagged Mr Edwards who was the keeper [of the Crown] and carried away the crown. Mr Edward’s son coming in and finding that his father had been hurt ran after [them]. One of the villains shot at him but missed, as were the guards but they kept up with them and captured two near the Iron Gate, old Blood who was disguised as a priest called Ailoffe and one called Perrott. Afterwards Blood’s son [was captured] when he fell from his horse near Gravel Lane, he was named Hunt and was the person who had kidnapped the Duke of Ormonde. They were brought to Whitehall and taken into custody, the other two escaped.

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