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Sam Willis looks at urban crime, fraud and corruption in the 18th century, uncovering a fascinating rogues gallery of charmers, fraudsters and villains.

Few figures in British history have captured the popular imagination as much as the outlaw. From gentleman highwaymen, via swashbuckling pirates to elusive urban thieves and rogues, the brazen escapades and the flamboyance of the outlaw made them the anti-hero of their time - feared by the rich, admired by the poor and celebrated by writers and artists.

In this three-part series, historian Dr Sam Willis travels the open roads, the high seas and urban alleyways to explore Britain's 17th and 18th-century underworld of highwaymen, pirates and rogues, bringing the great age of the British outlaw vividly to life.

Sam shows that, far from being 'outsiders', outlaws were very much a product of their time, shaped by powerful national events. In each episode, he focuses not just on a particular type of outlaw, but a particular era; the series as a whole offers a chronological portrait of the changing face of crime in the 17th and 18th centuries.

In the final episode, Sam looks at urban crime, fraud and corruption in the 18th century, uncovering a fascinating rogues gallery of charmers, fraudsters and villains. Charmers like thief and serial escaper Jack Sheppard, so notorious that almost a quarter of a million people turned up to witness his hanging. Almost as controversial in her lifetime was Mary Toft, a fraudster who managed to convince no less than King George I and his surgeon that she had given birth to rabbits, making her, perhaps, the original 'con' artist.

1 hour

Last on

Fri 23 Mar 2018 02:45

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Credits

Role Contributor
Presenter Sam Willis
Producer Gerry Dawson
Director Gerry Dawson
Series Producer William Naylor
Executive Producer Michael Poole

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