Monday, 10 January 2011

The Best Dressed Highwayman in Surrey

Jack Rann at his trial

Perhaps the best dressed highwayman active in Surrey was Jack Rann, nicknamed Sixteen String Jack because he wore 16 ribbons about his knees - then a great fashion among gentlemen. Officially Rann was a self-employed coachman who hired out himself and his coach to whoever had need of it, but few people ever saw him work. The act was merely a cover for his criminal activities. Like Whitney before him, Rann ostentatiously adopted fine clothes and fine manners, especially when at work on the roads. In 1773 he appeared at the Barnet Races in a blue silk three piece suit trimmed with lace woven from pure silver thread and created a sensation. When he was finally arrested in September 1774 he called for a tailor to make him a new suit of pea green wool trimmed with sliver lace, and he bought a selection of ruffled linen shirts so that he could have a fresh shirt for each day of his trial. After being found guilty he threw a series of parties in prison, the last of which was for seven of his girlfriends. He was hanged next day - in yet another new suit.

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