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18 June 2014
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Legacies - Essex

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Myths and Legends
Your Story: Dick Turpin and Epping Forest

Much of the legend of Dick Turpin has become exaggerated over the years but a report of one incident at Loughton, a village in the centre of the Forest, has survived. Reads Weekly Journal for the 8 February 1735 reported that: 'On Saturday night last, about seven o'clock, five rogues entered the house of Widow Shelley at Loughton in Essex, having pistols. and threatened to murder the old lady, if she would not tell them where her money lay, which she obstinately refusing for some time, they threatened to lay her across the fire, if she did not instantly tell them, which she would not do. But her son being in the room, and threatened to be murdered, cried out, he would tell them, if they would not murder his mother, and did, whereupon they went upstairs, and took near £100, a silver tankard, and other plate, and all manner of household goods. They afterwards went into the cellar and drank several bottles of ale and wine, and broiled some meat, ate the relicts of a filet of veal. While they were doing this, two of their gang went to Mr Turkles, a farmer, who rents one end of the widow's house, and robbed him of above £20, and then they all went off, taking two of the farmer's horses, to carry off their luggage, the horses were found on Sunday the following morning in Old Street, and stayed about three hours in the house.' The raid took place on 1 February 1735 and widow Shelly's house was in Traps Hill, Loughton. Although the newspaper report does not specifically mention Turpin it seems likely that he was a member of the gang on this occasion. Turpin often carried out his robberies in the company of a man named Rowden and a report at the time states that Rowden was involved in the robbery at Loughton. A more recent author has written that the crime was conceived by Turpin but no evidence is given for this.

Words: Richard Morris

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Your comments

1 sandra maddox from Manchester, England - 2 January 2004
"Some friends of mine were the landlords of the Rose and Crown at Hempstead where Turpins father was the inn keeper they experienced footsteps in the rooms above the bar when the living quarters were empty and often glasses were moved around the bar,I also would like to bring to your notice that Turpin was also active around the Newport area of Essex and used the now overgrown and disussed London Lane in the village, some friends and I witnessed the apparition of a man dressed in a cloak around that area and often wondered if it were Turpin that we saw, there is still a family in Saffron Walden called Turpin so perhaps they are his ancestors? "

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