This Irish Thief Stole The Crown Jewels, And The King Gave Him A House Instead Of Jail Time

In 1671, a bold Irish military officer named Thomas Blood concocted a plan to steal the Crown Jewels. When he was brought to confess his crimes to the throne, King Charles II decided to pardon him and grant him land.

Thomas Blood was already a controversial figure before his heist. He switched sides in the English Civil War to join Oliver Cromwell, but had to flee to Ireland when King Charles II took power. He fled Ireland with a price on his head for attempting to seize Dublin Castle. He tried to kidnap the governor of Ireland twice. He practiced as a doctor in England under a false name. This was all before his attempted heist.

Blood's theft of the Crown Jewels has gone down in history as one of the most bold and unbelievable heists, alongside the Great Hatton Garden Heist and a number of strange unsolved heists.


  • Blood Set Up A Fake Arranged Marriage With The Jewel Keeper
    Photo: UK Government / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    Blood Set Up A Fake Arranged Marriage With The Jewel Keeper

    Blood frequently visited Talbot Edwards - the keeper of the Crown Jewels - and his family. His friendship with Edwards earned him time and opportunity to case the Tower and gain the keeper's trust.

    He announced to Edwards that he had a nephew who could prove a good match to Edwards's unmarried daughter. The man happily accepted the idea, and the two agreed to bring the nephew over for a meeting. The meeting with Edwards was the perfect excuse to execute the heist.

  • Blood And His Conspirators Used A Fake Marriage To Access The Jewels
    Photo: Unknown / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    Blood And His Conspirators Used A Fake Marriage To Access The Jewels

    On the day Edwards was meant to meet Blood's "nephew," the thief arrived at the Tower with his conspirators. Blood's son, Thomas, played the nephew, and three other men tagged along to assist.

    All of the conspirators had hidden daggers and pistols with them, and Blood himself carried a wooden mallet in his clergyman's robes. Blood was already familiar with the security arrangements and had a plan to abscond with the jewels without raising an alarm.

    When Blood and his cohorts met with Edwards, he persuaded the keeper to show the jewels to his nephew and friends. Edwards led them all to the Jewel House.

  • Blood Pretended To Be A Parson And Befriended The Keeper Of The Jewels
    Photo: G. Scott / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    Blood Pretended To Be A Parson And Befriended The Keeper Of The Jewels

    The Crown Jewels were not an easy prize to get. They were kept in a basement in the Tower of London, guarded by the Keeper of the Jewels, Talbot Edwards, who lived on the floor above.

    Putting his scheme in motion, Blood went to see the jewels while disguised as a parson, and began a friendship with Edwards. Blood later returned to see the keeper, this time bringing a female conspirator playing his wife. The "wife" feigned illness and was taken to Edwards's apartment to rest, and Blood wanted to repay Edwards's kindness toward his "wife."

    Over time, Blood became close friends with Edwards, setting the stage to access the jewels.

  • Blood Ambushed The Jewel Keeper And Stole The Jewels
    Photo: Cyril Davenport / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    Blood Ambushed The Jewel Keeper And Stole The Jewels

    Once Blood and his friends gained access to the Jewel House, the heist was on. As soon as Edwards had unlocked the door, he was ambushed. The conspirators gagged the man and threw a sack over his head. Blood knocked him unconscious with his mallet and stabbed him. 

    They removed the metal grille that protected the jewels, and took the orb, scepter, and crown. Blood flattened the crown with a mallet and concealed it in a bag, and hid the orb down his pants. The scepter was too long to conceal, so one of the men tried to saw it in half. 

  • The Jewel Keeper's Son Unexpectedly Foiled The Plan
    Photo: George Younghusband / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

    The Jewel Keeper's Son Unexpectedly Foiled The Plan

    Unfortunately for Blood, his plan was not foolproof. As Blood and his friends attempted to conceal the jewels, Talbot Edwards's son reportedly arrived on an unexpected visit looking for his father. Blood's lookout warned him of the son's approach.

    At that time, Edwards finally regained consciousness and raised the alarm. His cries of "Murder! Treason!" attracted attention, and the thieves were forced to abandon the heist. They dropped the scepter and ran.

  • Blood And His Partners Were Captured After A Fight
    Photo: Gerard Soest / Wikimedia / Public Domain

    Blood And His Partners Were Captured After A Fight

    With their heist foiled, Blood and his conspirators made a run for the tower gates, pursued by the tower guards, a Swedish military engineer, and Edwards's son. Blood fired his pistols at his pursuers, wounding one of the tower guards. Blood made it to his horse, but was caught before he could get in the saddle to make his getaway.

    His friends were quickly rounded up, and the jewels were recovered. Blood and his accomplices were dragged back into the Tower of London, this time to be imprisoned.