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Jack Sheppard
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    (March 4, 1702-November 16, 1724)
    Born in London, United Kingdom
    Arrested five times, escaped from prison four times
    Executed by hanging
    He was an apprentice carpenter with less than two years of training left to complete when he turned to crime.
    He did a whole lot of drinking and whoring.
    He was blind drunk during his last arrest.
    In a popular mid-19th century play about his life, he was portrayed by an actress, Mary Anne Keeley.
    The play's popularity and worries that youths would emulate Sheppard's career led the Lord Chamberlain to suppress the play and to ban any play with Jack Sheppard in the title for another 40 years.
    Jesse James would send letters to the Kansas City Star signed 'Jack Sheppard.'
    After his father died, his mother was unable to support the family financially, so he was sent to a workhouse when he was six.
    He never used violence during his robberies.
    For his last prison break, he escaped from a pair of handcuffs, picked a padlock securing his leg irons to the cell floor, shimmied up a chimney to reach an unused floor, forced open six doors to reach the prison chapel and then the roof, used a blanket from his cell to reach an adjacent house, then broke into the house and went down the stairs and out into the street without disturbing the occupants.
    Several prominent people petitioned King George I asking that his death sentence be commuted to transportation to the American colonies.
    Although his slight build had aided in his jail breaks, it resulted in a slow death by strangulation when he was hanged.
    He inspired the character of MacHeath in John Gay's 'The Beggar's Opera,' and thus was indirectly responsible for 'Mack the Knife.'

Credit: C. Fishel

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