Search

Islington highwayman was ‘One Direction’ of his day

PUBLISHED: 06:30 20 May 2015 | UPDATED: 10:27 20 May 2015

Stand and Deliver: Dashing Islington highwayman Claude du Vall stars at the London Dungeon

Stand and Deliver: Dashing Islington highwayman Claude du Vall stars at the London Dungeon

Chris Gloag

Heartthrob thief’s live of romance and robbery on borough’s roads

A dashing highwayman who terrorised travellers on Islington’s roads almost 400 years ago has been brought back to life.

Claude du Vall, known as the true gentleman of the road, robbed men and romanced women during a 10 year reign of swashbuckling terror in the 1660s.

Now, the gallant rogue – dubbed “the One Direction of his day”, so popular the King tried to stop his execution –has become the star of the latest London Dungeon attraction.

Richard Quincy, who researched Mr du Vall for the exhibition, said: “He really was a fascinating character. He’s the personification of everything you think of when you imagine a highway robber.

“When you think of that kind of dashing thief, you think of Dick Turpin.

“But Dick Turpin was actually a bit of a nasty b***ard, while du Vall was all gallantry.

“He had women lining up at his death bed. He really was the One Direction of his day.”

In the 1600s, Islington was prime hunting ground for highwaymen, as it was the main route into the city from the north.

Mr du Vall became a household name as a gentleman thief, due to his fashionable dress, dashing good looks and well mannered, though villainous, behaviour. Wealthy people even deliberately travelled to Islington and nearby Hampstead Heath in the hope of being held up.

He was finally caught – whilst drunk – from a tavern and sent to Newgate Jail, tried by a judge and sentenced to 
death.

Much to the devastation of ladies of the court, and King Charles II himself who campaigned for his reprieve, Mr du Vall was hanged at Tyburn in 1670, aged only 27.

Now, his story of glamour and thievery is being re-told at a world famous visitor attraction.

Mr Quincy said: “We are really exaggerating his character, all that suaveness and Frenchness.

“He’s like an extreme Thierry Henry and it’s a lovely character to have in the dungeon.

“We’ve put him with Moll Cutpurse – a highway woman – and they give visitors a lesson in robbery from the gallows at Tyburn.”

Mr Quincy cites two stories in particular which captured the public’s imagination.

In one, while robbing a couple of their cash, the wife began to play her flute. On hearing this, the lovable rouge dismounted and began to play his own instrument. The pair dance together, much to her husband’s “absolute dismay”.

The highwayman handed the wife back, kissing her hand, and returned the cash to the couple – minus a fee charged to the husband for watching their performance.

In the second tale, the smooth criminal takes all a family’s belongings - including the baby’s dummy.

As the baby begins to cry, Mr du Vall returns the dummy to the child.

“I thinks that’s the worst thing he ever did,” said Mr Quincy. “Robbing a baby’s dummy.”

The exhibition runs until May 31.

Related articles

0 comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Islington Gazette visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Islington Gazette staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Islington Gazette account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

Latest Islington News Stories

A 61-year-old man threatened to fetch his gun while arguing with a shopkeeper in King’s Cross Road on Sunday, it is claimed.

15:39

Firefighters rescued a man from his bedsit above the Archway Tavern this morning after it went up in flames.

A Clerkenwell publican says noise complaints have “absolutely divided the community” and could force his popular business to close.

A sports academy is offering free sessions to Islington children every Sunday morning at Market Road Football Pitches.

17:02

A discount card supporting local independent businesses has expanded into Islington.

A massive anti-knife crime message has been spray painted across a wall in 0ld Street where a young man was tragically stabbed to death.

11:29

A man in his 70s died after collapsing in Holloway Road pub Tommy Flynn’s on Friday night.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Schoolchildren who escaped the fire which gutted the Highbury Leisure Centre were rewarded for their bravery with a meeting with the Mayor of Islington.

Promoted Content

Fostering older teenagers means giving them the skills for life as an adult. Here, a supportive lodgings carer with Islington Council and young adult who has left care share their stories

Newsletter Sign Up

Islington Gazette twice-weekly newsletter
Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Most read

Show Job Lists

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Islington Gazette
e-edition today

Subscribe

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now