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Monday, September 22, 2014

Jenny Diver, The Queen of Pickpockets

Picture was found on – http://john-adcock.blogspot.com
      One of the characters in my post-Revolutionary War novel, entitled Laurel, is modeled after Jenny Diver, a notorious pickpocket.
      Jenny was born as Mary Young around 1700 in Ireland. She was the illegitimate daughter of a lady’s maid who, after being forced to leave her job, gave birth to Jenny in a brothel.
     At age 10, Jenny was taken in by a gentlewoman who sent her to school where she learned needlework and to read and write. Once she had mastered needlework, she moved to London to become a seamstress.
     There she met the leader of a gang of pickpockets and learned the skills of a street criminal so well she soon became their leader. Though she was caught several times, imprisoned in Newgate, and sent to the American colonies, she managed to return to London under assumed names.
     Eventually at the age of about 40, her luck ran out, and she was caught and put on trial for street robbery.
     The following description is from The Chronicles of Crime or The New Newgate Calendar. v. 1/2, by Camden Pelham:
     "After conviction she appeared to have a due sense of the awful situation in which she was placed; and employing a great part of her time in devotion, she repented sincerely of the course of iniquity in which she had so long persisted. On the day preceding that of her execution, she sent for the woman who nursed her child, which was then about three years old, and saying that there was a person who would pay for its maintenance, she earnestly entreated that it might be carefully instructed in the duties of religion. On the following morning she appeared to be in a serene state of mind. The preparations in the press-yard for a moment shook her fortitude, but her spirits were soon again tolerably composed. She was conveyed to Tyburn in a mourning--coach, being attended by a clergyman, to whom she declared her firm belief in the principles of the Protestant Church. Her execution took place on the 18th March, 1740. She was hanged from London's Tyburn Tree. Her remains were, at her own desire, buried in St. Pancras churchyard."

Susan F. Craft is the author of the Revolutionary War romantic suspense, The Chamomile, which won the SIBA Okra Pick award. Laurel will be released January 12, 2015, by Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. Susan is represented by Linda S. Glaz, Hartline Literary Agency.



10 comments:

  1. Fascinating, Susan! I'd never heard of her. Great idea to model a character after her.

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  2. In my novel, Laurel, which is being released January 12, 2015, the heroine is charged with murder and put in a Charleston, SC prison. She meets lots of interesting characters there.

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    1. I bet she does! I still have to read it.Champing at the bit. Will do soon.

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  3. That was so interesting, thanks I enjoyed reading it!

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  4. Pleased that you like it, Deanna. :-)

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  5. Wow--what an interesting idea for a book.
    Vicki

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    1. Glad you like it, John and Vicki. I've got so many ideas for books stored away in my mind and MUST try to write them down before they are lost forever. :-)

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  6. Very fascinating. An unusual story from history.

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    1. I love coming across interesting stories like these about unfamiliar, but notorious people. I'm an admitted history nerd. :-)

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