This day in London history: on 21 January 1664, Colonel James Turner (thief) was hanged at the end of Lime Street, and on 21 January 1670, Claude Duval, or Du Vall (highwayman), was hanged at Tyburn.
Samuel Pepys wrote in his diary on the day of Turner’s execution that he sent his wife to his aunt’s house, in the area of Lime Street, to save him a good place for viewing the execution.
When the time came, says Pepys, “And there I got for a shilling to stand upon the wheel of a cart, in great pain, above an houre before the execution was done; he delaying the time by long discourses and prayers one after another, in hopes of a reprieve; but none came, and at last was flung off the ladder in his cloake. A comely-looked man he he was, and kept his countenance to the end: I was sorry to see him.”
Not, presumably, sorry enough to have held off watching the execution; according to Pepys there were “at least 12 or 14,000 people in the street”.
Lime Street was the scene of Turner’s crime: the robbery of a jeweller. According to the Newgate Calendar, “There was one Mr Francis Tryon, a great merchant, who lived in Lime Street, whom Colonel Turner knew to be very rich”. It seems that Turner was very charismatic and though his guilt was proved conclusively, “all who knew him wondered at the fact”.
Lime Street is an ancient street that now serves as the location of the ‘Inside-Out Building’ that is the headquarters of Lloyd’s of London, though the institution began life in Pope’s Head Alley near Leadenhall Street. The street was Limestrate in the 12th century, and one of the documents in which it appears also mentions one ‘Ailnoth the limeburner’, so it seems safe to assume that it was a street where lime was burned and sold.
There is, as ever, a conflicting theory: the name derives from a row of lime trees that ran along it. Possibly, but somehow a row of lime trees does not seem likely in 12th-century London.
And on to Duval, who was also a charismatic villain who dressed well and behaved in a gentlemanly fashion using no violence in his hold-ups. Following his execution he was said to have been given a grand funeral and buried at St Paul’s, Covent Garden, where his memorial stone stated:
Here lies Du Vall. Reader, if Male thou art
Look to thy purse: if female, to thy heart.
According to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, however, states that Duval was “a figure more of literary invention than of history”. His name does not appear in the death register for St Paul’s and he is now known to be buried at St Giles-in-the-Fields.
The Tyburn River supposedly took its name from a word meaning ‘boundary stream’; in the middle ages it served as the boundary for Westminster. The Tyburn tree, the site of public hangings from at least 1196 to 1793, is near modern-day Marble Arch. The river flowed through Marylebone and the novelist William Makepeace Thackeray is supposed to have dubbed the area from Portman Square to the Edgware Road ‘Tyburnia’. That area is now touted by estate agents as one of the hottest residential areas in London.