The Man from the Hornet introduces our semi-regular series on “Dandies” – as inspired by the Player’s cigarette card collection of 1932…
Them Frenchies. Comin’ over ‘ere, robbin’ our coaches and stealin’ our wimmin…
Claude Du Val, the famous highwayman of the 17th century, is a much romanticised figure. He was, his legend assures us, never violent and would, ow’ you say, coax his victims into giving up their lucre.
A likely story.
Born into a noble family – ooh, we love a posh crim here in England – he is the original Dandy Highwayman. When the mind’s eye turns to thigh boots, tricorn hat, cape and twin pistols, it is Du Val we have to thank. It is an enduring look.
Du Val is buried at St Paul’s Church, Covent Garden having undergone a not particularly glamorous hanging at Tyburn in 1670. His epitaph is a particularly stylish one. It reads…
Here lies DuVall: Reader, if male thou art,
Look to thy purse; if female, to thy heart.
Much havoc has he made of both; for all
Men he made to stand, and women he made to fall
The second Conqueror of the Norman race,
Knights to his arm did yield, and ladies to his face.
Old Tyburn’s glory; England’s illustrious Thief,
Du Vall, the ladies’ joy; Du Vall, the ladies’ grief.