Thomas Blood

From A Compendium of Irish Biography, 1878

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Blood, Thomas, Colonel, an adventurer, was born about 1628. His father, an ironmaster, resided at Sarney in Meath, where, as well as at Glenmalure, County of Wicklow, he had been granted lands by Charles I. Blood was in England at the close of Charles' reign, but returning to Ireland, became a lieutenant in the Parliamentary army. After the Restoration, the Act of Settlement rendered him and many others of the Parliamentary officers discontented, and in 1663 he became leader of a conspiracy for surprising Dublin Castle and seizing the Duke of Ormond, then Lord-Lieutenant. The plot was discovered when on the eve of execution. His brother-in-law suffered death as an accomplice, while he escaped to Antrim, concealing his identity under different disguises. After various adventures in Ireland and on the Continent he settled in England, passing as a physician under the name of Ayliffe.

He fought with the Covenanters at the Pentland Hills in November 1666; and afterwards passed himself off for a Quaker. He now, probably at the instigation of the Duke of Buckingham, entered upon a scheme to seize and perhaps murder his old enemy, the Duke of Ormond. On the night of 6th December 1670, with five accomplices, he waylaid the Duke in the streets of London, and carried him off. Fortunately the populace were roused, and the Duke was rescued; but although £1,000 reward was offered for the apprehension of the perpetrators of the outrage, Blood's share in the transaction was not discovered until some years afterwards.

His next design was to purloin the English regalia. Disguised as a clergyman, he made the acquaintance of Edwards the custodian at the Tower. When by repeated visits he had gained his confidence, he appeared one day with two associates, under the plea of wishing to see the regalia. On being admitted, they threw a cloak over the head of Edwards and gagged him. Blood carried away the crown, and his two companions the globe and sceptre: they were apprehended and brought to trial. Charles II. attended at the examination, and Blood by lying, flattery, cajolery, and threats of the vengeance of associates, so worked on the King, that he was not only pardoned but granted a pension of £500 a-year, and generally received into such favour at court that the whole affair became a public scandal. Afterwards he fell into trouble by making scandalous imputations on the character of the Duke of Buckingham: before his trial could come on, he died at his house in Westminster, 24th August 1680, aged about 52.

Sources

34. Biographie Générale. 46 vols. Paris, 1855-'66. An interleaved copy, copiously noted by the late Dr. Thomas Fisher, Assistant Librarian of Trinity College, Dublin.

42. Biographical Dictionary: Rev. Hugh J. Rose. 12 vols. London, 1850.

271. Ormond, Duke of, Life 1610-'88: Thomas A. Carte, M.A. 6 vols. Oxford, 1851.

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