Colonel Thomas Blood Attempts to Steal the British Crown Jewels
Blood was an Irishman with a colourful history. He fought for Oliver Cromwell's
Parliamentary forces during the English Civil War.
In 1663, Thomas Blood and his colleagues raided Dublin Castle and
attempted to kidnap the Lord Lieutenant, the Duke of Ormonde. This attempt failed, but
seven years later, Blood again tried to capture the Duke. This time the
Duke was in London, and Blood did seize him but
released him soon afterwards.
The Plot to Steal the British Crown Jewels
About the 6th May, (1670?) Thomas Blood and a woman posing
wife visited The Jewel House in the Tower of London. Soon after arriving the woman
appeared to be taken ill.
The newly appointed Master of the Jewel House was a
servant Talbert Edwards. Edwards, who was
living on the premises with his wife, took the ill woman upstairs into his
quarters so that Mrs Edwards could attend to the ill woman.
On the 9th May, at seven o'clock in the morning Colonel
Blood, dressed as a parson and three well-dressed young men, visited the Martin Tower to see the
Blood brought a present for Mrs Edwards as a thank you for her
attentions to his own wife. When the group entered the jewel chamber,
Blood pulled out a mallet from under his cloak and struck Edward's on the head.
His accomplices bound and gagged Edwards.
Colonel Blood took the King's Crown and started to flatten it with the mallet so as to get it into his cassock pocket.
An accomplice put the Orb into his breeches. The other men filed away at the sceptre trying to cut it in half.
Edward's son Wythe arrived unexpectedly
on leave from military service abroad. He found his father lying unconscious on the floor,
bleeding from the head wound. Blood and his gang fled the scene, but three of the
caught as they tried to get out the Tower, and the jewels were recovered
King Charles sent for Blood for private interrogation. Far from being punished, Blood was pardoned, awarded a pension of
£500 a year, and made welcome at court!!
Shortly after Blood's pardon the
diarist Evelyn met him at Whitehall, and later wrote down his opinion: 'How he
ever came to be pardoned and ever received into favour, not only after this but
several other exploits almost as daring, both in Ireland and here, I never
could come to understand. This man had not only a daring, but a villainous
unmerciful look, a false countenance, but very well spoken, and dangerously
The Jewel-house Master, Talbot Edwards was awarded a grant of £200 but it proved so hard for him to get the
money that he sold his right to it for the amount in cash, and died in
misery in 1674. Since Blood's foiled attempt during that fate-full day in the
1600's there has been no further threat to steal the jewels.
The attempted robbery led to a severe tightening
up of security and the procedure for displaying the Crown Jewels, including the posting of an armed guard by the door of the chamber in the
Martin Tower. The jewels remained in the Martin Tower until 1841 when following
the great fire at the Tower a new secure building was constructed to house
An attempt to rob the Royal Treasury in 1303 led to its removal from the Abbey Church of Westminister
to White Tower in the Tower of London. When James II came to the throne, he found the Crown of England was so battered and so many gems pilfered from it to have been replaced by imitation gems that the repair and replacements cost £12,000