Jonathan Wild facts for kids
Quick facts for kidsJonathan Wild
|Born||1682 or 1683
Wolverhampton, Staffordshire, England
|Died||24 May 1725 (aged 41–42)
Tyburn Tree Gallows, Middlesex, England
|Motive||Economic gain via thief-taking|
|Penalty||Execution by hanging|
|Status||Execution carried out|
|Occupation||carpenter, buckle-maker, criminal gang leader, fence, thief, thief-taker|
Jonathan Wild, also spelled Wilde (1682 or 1683 – 24 May 1725), was a London underworld figure notable for operating on both sides of the law, posing as a public-spirited crimefighter entitled the "Thief-Taker General". Wild simultaneously ran a significant criminal empire, and used his crime fighting role to remove rivals and launder the proceeds of his own crimes.
Wild exploited a strong public demand for action during a major London 18th-century crime wave in the absence of any effective police force. As a powerful gang-leader himself, he became a master manipulator of legal systems, collecting the rewards offered for valuables which he had stolen himself, bribing prison guards to release his colleagues, and blackmailing any who crossed him. He was consulted on crime by the government, due to his apparently remarkable prowess in locating stolen items and those who had stolen them.
He was responsible for the arrest and execution of Jack Sheppard, a petty thief and burglar who had won the public's affection as a lovable rogue. However, Wild's duplicity became known, and his men began to give evidence against him. He was hanged at Tyburn before a massive crowd.
He was featured in novels, poems and plays, some of them noting parallels between Wild and the contemporaneous Prime Minister Walpole, known as "The Great Corrupter".
Jonathan Wild Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.