The Newgate Calendar - SIMON FLETCHER

SIMON FLETCHER

A most expert Pickpocket, who captained the Thieves of London. Executed in 1692

 THIS offender was the son of a baker in Rosemary Lane, to which trade he served about four years with his father; but happening several times to fall into bad company, and being of a vicious inclination, he was prevailed on, without much difficulty, to run away from his servitude, and enter with a gang of thieves. The chief sort of thieving at that time was cutting off people's purses or pockets, which was in use long before the modern and more dexterous practice of picking out the money and leaving the case behind. The latter, however, must be allowed to be only an improvement of the former, and therefore the performances of any of our pickpockets cannot be said to derogate from the merit of those gentlemen of the last age; for the inventors of all sciences have generally been looked upon to deserve a greater share of praise than they that have brought those sciences to perfection, because it is much easier to refine upon the thought of another person than to start any new thought of our own.

 Simon Fletcher was looked upon to be the greatest artist of his age by all his contemporaries of the same trade; and it is affirmed that he was constituted captain of all the thieves, in and about London, by general consent. All that we know more of him is that he was at last taken, committed to Newgate, and hanged at Tyburn. His exit was in 1692, when he was about fifty-three years of age.

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