In search of Thomas Creasey of Heckington, I encountered this interesting tale of a dalliance with infamy. I had long known of the antics of Dick Turpin, indeed also the Essex Gang. What I had not foreseen is that one day I would be more much more interested in his antics.
Although the following extract is one of several versions available in various archives across the country, the facts never vary; Turpin was executed for horse theft and Thomas Creasey of Heckington, Lincolnshire, though sometimes spelt Creasy was responsible for helping bring him to justice.
|1739 Court Records|
Highway robbery in Lincolnshire
Highway robbery was a common occurrence in Lincolnshire in the 17th and 18th centuries, particularly in the southwest corner of the county, where the Great North Road (the present A1) crosses the border. Gonerby Hill, near Grantham, was a favourite spot, as it presented a considerable obstacle to heavily laden coaches.
Dick Turpin - The Lincolnshire Connection
Although Dick Turpin was born in Essex, Lincolnshire was to play an important part in his life and his eventual downfall. Turpin began his career in crime by stealing livestock, but he soon joined a group of brutal robbers known as the Essex Gang.
A substantial reward was soon being offered for the capture of the Essex Gang and Turpin decided to move on to pastures new. He eventually teamed up with the highwayman Tom King and the pair began robbing travellers near Epping Forest. This partnership, however, proved to be short-lived, as Turpin accidentally shot King while trying to free him from a local constable!
Essex had now become too hot for Turpin and he moved northwards, living for a number of years at Long Sutton. Turpin immediately returned to crime and he would regularly steal horses in Lincolnshire and take them into Yorkshire to be sold. The village of Heckington became a popular stopping off point and it was here that Turpin finally overreached himself.
Despite being well known in Heckington, Turpin stole two horses belonging to a local farmer called Thomas Creasey. He then made his usual journey to Yorkshire, but was arrested for brawling and while he languished in prison the stolen horses were recognised by a Heckington man who happened to be in the area. Turpin would have escaped the brawling charge with a minor sentence, but horse stealing was a capital offence and he was hanged at York on 7th April 1739.
Picture: Tied bundle of court records including the indictment of Richard ‘Dick’ Turpin, for stealing a mare worth three pounds from Thomas Creasy, at Welton, Yorkshire. Date: 1 March 1739. Source : The National Archives