Police today released an e-fit of infamous highwayman Dick Turpin — 270 years after he was sent to the gallows.
North Yorkshire Police used 18th century newspaper descriptions and modern technology to create the first realistic picture of Richard “Dick” Turpin, the notorious criminal who was executed in York in 1739.
The e-fit will appear on a “wanted” poster as part of a York Castle Museum exhibition of the cells in which Turpin spent his last night alive.
With no surviving drawings or paintings of Turpin, police produced the image using the descriptions issued by the London Gazette newspaper in 1735 and 1737 after the Government offered a reward for his capture.
One article, published on June 21, 1737, and offering a reward of £200, read: “Richard Turpin was born at Thacksted, in the county of Essex, is about 30-years-of-age, by trade a butcher, about 5ft 9ins high, of a brown complexion, very much marked with the small pox, his cheek bones broad, his face slimmer towards the bottom, his visage short, pretty upright and broad about the shoulders.”
The poster claims he is wanted for murder, burglary, highway robbery and horse-stealing — a contrast to the modern-day image of Turpin as a dashing, devilishly handsome rogue and heroic highwayman.
Katherine Prior, researcher for the gaol project at York Castle Museum, said: “We have worked with North Yorkshire Police to create an e-fit of Mr Turpin, just like they would do from a description of a criminal today. The results are not pretty.”
Ian Greaves, an e-fit specialist at North Yorkshire Police, added: “It is nice to think that North Yorkshire Police are able to assist in putting a true picture together of the infamous highwayman, who spent his last days in the city of York.”