The grave of Snooks - the last British highwayman (7 photos)

16 May 2024

When the dark gloomy times are replaced by the era of enlightenment, all sorts of wild orders gradually remain in the past. But for the edification of future generations it is worth leaving memorable things. So that citizens know how it was. And how not to do it.

This specific memorial became the eternal resting place of the last robber executed in England by hanging.

In Hemel Hempstead, in one of the public squares, there is a modest, inconspicuous gravestone right in the grass. This is the probable burial place of Robert Snooks, the last highwayman executed in England.

Snooks' real name is James Blackman Snooks, and the name Robert is believed to be a corruption of the word robber. His life as a petty thief was enchantingly unremarkable until the last robbery.

On Sunday, May 10, 1801, a thief robbed a postman under cover of darkness. He took six bags of mail, which contained not only correspondence, but also large banknotes. Due to the darkness, the victim was unable to identify the person who robbed her.

But Snooks did not enjoy his wealth for long. Having sent the inn maid to bring him clothes, he accidentally gave her 50 pounds instead of 5. This large bill aroused suspicion, and the guy had to hide. True, he did not run for long.

In March 1802, Snooks was tried and found guilty. At that time, those who committed similar crimes were placed in one of the colonies. But the robber’s crimes were recognized as “so destructive to society and the commercial interests of the country” that he received a different – the most severe sentence.

As required by law, his punishment took place in a public area on a tree closest to the crime scene. Thousands of people gathered to watch his hanging. It is reported that while drinking in a nearby pub before his death, Snooks even joked ironically and said: “There’s no need to rush - they won’t be able to start the fun until I get there!”

Now in the place where, according to legend, his body lay, there is a small tombstone. It was erected a century after his death by members of the Boxmoor Trust where they believed the criminal's body was buried.

So the unremarkable robber went down in history and remained in it as a shining example of an anti-hero, forcing others to think ten times before committing some dirty trick in the hope of quickly getting rich.

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