Talk:Jonathan Wild

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Former featured articleJonathan Wild is a former featured article. Please see the links under Article milestones below for its original nomination page (for older articles, check the nomination archive) and why it was removed.
Main Page trophyThis article appeared on Wikipedia's Main Page as Today's featured article on February 9, 2005.
Article milestones
October 30, 2004Featured article candidatePromoted
January 25, 2010Featured article reviewDemoted
Current status: Former featured article

£800 reward (in 1724) - approximately US $ 40,000 (in 2000)?[edit]

Lovely article, but I quibble with that conversion. The purchasing power of a pound was probably much greater than that. This is a notoriously tricky issue, and I have no direct evidence from the time period to point to, but Conan Doyle wrote that £750/year was a gentleman's income in/about 1890. Jane Austen's figures reveal that gentile "poverty" (only one or two servants) was achievable at about £300/year or so. I would think $240,000 might be closer to the mark. That Wild was willing to extort a guinea from an individual reveals something about how much a guinea was worth - perhaps a few hundred dollars in today's money?

I absolutely agree with you that conversions are murder. They're especially difficult because of inflation and deflation in England. I.e. it isn't always inflation. One era may value less than another. However, the closest figure I had was 1680. At that point, the purchasing power of a pound for staple goods was compared to 1970, and the conversion was 20:1. The assumption these scholars made was that luxury goods fluctuate wildly with availability, foreign trade, etc. Even clothing, except underwear, fluctuates a lot, so they went only with a servant's shirt, wheat (which would fluctuate the same then as now), and basic housing in the countryside. Whether this is an accurate basis or not is up in the air, but it's one way of performing the conversion. The 20:1 turned to 40:1 for me because of several factors. First, coinage was more debased in 1680 than in 1720, so there had been less inflation. Second, 1970 to 2000 puts in an inflation of about 50% by itself. Finally, I, too, know that an income of 200 a year is sufficient for living in London in 1720. Well, to live in London (count suburbs) today is at least probably about 80,000 (remember that this is net, not gross, as there was no income tax then). All of which is to say that I was guessing the best way I could. Geogre 23:01, 9 Feb 2005 (UTC)

FA image suggestion[edit]

To whoever does the boiling and rendering for FA. I think that's you, Raul, but I don't want to presume. May I make a suggestion on image to use? I like the "True Effigy," but the image that I think gets to the quick of it best is the 2nd image, the "Gallows Ticket." That one contains the picture of Wild and has neat 18th c. iconography and has an example of the odd sensibility of the 18th c., where they could joke, gloat, and mourn a death all at the same time. Also, I think it bears looking at, so visitors who click on the image will be rewarded for their pains. Geogre 17:39, 4 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Double cross etymology is dubious[edit]

I’m dubious about the etymology of double cross. I don't believe it dates back to 1720 or earlier. I don't have a print reference handy, but online references (of unknown accuracy) seem to agree:

1. states that the term dates from 1834.

2. ( states that the term is related to fixing horse races. It also confirms the 1834 date.

3. gives credit to the "Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins" by Robert Hendrickson (Facts on File, New York, 1997) for a longer discussion of “double cross” that associates it with the use of “cross” in Thackeray’s 'Vanity Fair'; he used it to describe fixed horse races. It also claims a relationship with an older expression: “put on the double double” which has the same meaning.

Unless someone can refute that, I'm going to state that this is a etymological legend. Thanks, Throbblefoot 01:31, 9 Feb 2005 (UTC)

I can confirm it from an on-line reference of known accuracy, the OED, which is presumably where the others get their information: check. First recorded use 1834. That's the noun, the verb doesn't show up until 1903. Bishonen | Talk 17:49, 9 Feb 2005 (UTC)
For whatever it's worth, I did the majority of the writing on the original version of this article, and I never encountered "double cross" in the legends of JW. Howson is pretty exhaustive, and yet he hadn't a word on it. In fact, I had originally attempted to make it clear that we don't have any proof that Wild ever sold any of his own thieves. The only one who seems to have been from his own gang was Sheppard. Instead, he just had rebellious members beaten to death. He was not a pleasant fellow. Sheppard worked with Wild from time to time, and he worked independently all along as well. Other than him, there is only the legend that Wild could/might hand off his own thieves. Gay, of course, made it seem assured, and most folks have just followed since then (n.b. that Defoe doesn't say that he did, either). It seems really likely that he did, but we don't know that he did. Geogre 04:36, 9 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Thank you, Geogre and Bishonen, for confirming my findings. Throbblefoot 23:17, 9 Feb 2005 (UTC)

On a related note, I was wondering while reading this article whether any of Wild's former comrades attempted to rat him out. It seems surprising if he sent many of his former thieves to prison or the gallows that none of them reported Wild's illegal activities -- particularly Sheppard. I guess it is plausible that no-one believed them. Anyway, if anyone knows anything about this either way, please add to the article. Zashaw 05:57, 9 Feb 2005 (UTC)
Sorry: I thought that I had indicated that. His own gang was terrified of him, for good reason. He didn't just hand them off (if he did): he tortured them. Sheppard didn't tell on him for whatever private reasons he had (possibly the thought that whoever was helping him with his escapes would again, and he wouldn't want to escape only to find himself killed by every thief in Wild's gang). The gang were afraid enough that they didn't come forward even after Wild was in prison. When one of Wild's gang got caught, he bailed them out and helped them disappear, so an apprehended thief never knew if he was caught because Wild had handed him in (and there would be no help or escape) or hadn't (in which case there would), so that would ensure silence. Other than that, none did. Wild was in jail for over 2 weeks, I think, before one finally came forward, and then they all did. Geogre 16:15, 9 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Wild's Background[edit]

A recent change now has him being born to a rich family, as opposed to a poor one. I don't know enough about the man to comment, but it might be a case of a user having a spot of fun. BigHaz 07:11, 9 Feb 2005 (UTC)

That is entirely incorrect. Wild was born to a very poor family, was in debtor's prison, was an apprentice to a buckle maker. Absurd change. Vandalism. Geogre 16:16, 9 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Baroque Cycle[edit]

I vaguely recall Half-Cock Jack having a thieftaker alias suspiciously similar to Jonathan Wild. Don't remember what the name he used was, tho... crazyeddie 07:42, 9 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Note of hand[edit]

A note of hand was a promissory note or IOU: It would have had monetary value, so it's a reasonable thing to mention in an advertisement. It would be signed by the debtor. I don't know whether it would necessarily name the creditor. --Stephengw 14:00, 9 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Well, there were "several" notes of hand in that particular book. They would have, in standard form, indicated the creditor as well as debtor. Since the pocket book was gotten at the Fountain Tavern, the creditor would have not only been exposed as the sort of man who was at brothels, but all those he had lent to would be notified first. I.e. Wild had the power to tell all his debtors a secret and allow them to use it to get out of their debts. My point in following others in mentioned that particular ad was to show that the ad's primary purpose was blackmail, and not just fee collecting. It may, indeed, be after a negotiation had already been begun for its return -- Wild upping the cost a bit by making good on a threat. Wild's account book has not been preserved, but having it would be quite illustrative for the period. Geogre 19:16, 9 Feb 2005 (UTC)
Note: I have changed the text to try to reflect a bit more fully the implications of those "notes of hand" in that wallet. I appreciate the input. Geogre 13:45, 10 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Monoglot pride and shame[edit]

I want to publically announce how astonished I am at the erudition, commitment, and dedication of the French and German language editors who made Jonathan Wild a Featured Article in both of those languages. I'm a monoglot, I'm afraid (well, I read Latin and used to be able to read ancient Greek, and I read Anglo-Saxon (Old English)), and so translation of the German and French articles is a thousand miles beyond me, but I could only wish that this .en article had as much of the high quality, serious scholarship that theirs does. It is not this Featured Article that shows the best of what Wikipedia does, but the way that all three Featured Articles create a superlative coverage of a significant figure in history. Geogre 18:52, 29 September 2005 (UTC)[reply]

I agree. IMO, the German and French articles give a more professional impression than this article does. Someone should translate it from one of those languages… As for my translation of this article into Norwegian, I think I'll start from scratch, translating from German instead of English. Jon Harald Søby \ no na 21:17, 8 December 2005 (UTC)[reply]
I think Geogre is being modest about this article, rather than putting it down, as you do; he wrote it from scratch, in English, and it was then translated into French and German. (We're not supposed to say "he wrote it", but contributions from others have really been very minor.) I don't quite understand where you're coming from. Could you give some examples or quotes for how the original English article is less professional than the translations? And how would translating into Norwegian from German be starting from scratch? Bishonen | talk 22:45, 8 December 2005 (UTC)[reply]

The French article is a translation of this one, so I don't know how it's more "professional." The German one has some information that this doesn't and lacks some information this has. Choose to work from German, if you will, but you would be best served looking at both. (And the primary author of the German version started from this one.) It's not really necessary to insult this article to praise the others. (I've had time since the comments above to have done the translations for myself.) Geogre 21:38, 8 December 2005 (UTC)[reply]

I didn't mean to put the article down (though when I read what I wrote it certainly looks like that). What I think this article lacks most, that could bring its qualiy up a notch, is subsectioning; some of the sections are quite long, and the article would seem more organised. The other reason I think it's a bit hard, is that I found it very hard to translate, but that doesn't necessarily decrease its quality. I just found it easier for me to translate from German. Sorry for any … offense? I may have caused. Jon Harald Søby \ no na 11:58, 9 December 2005 (UTC)[reply]

I was just in a rotten mood. Sorry for being thin-skinned (a no-no for a longtime Wiki guy like me). It's just that this was the most readable of my Featured Articles because of the good yarn it spins, and, of course, Wild is one of the more important mobsters to know about. He's had an extensive cultural life. There is now, btw, an article on his associate, Charles Hitchen. Geogre 17:23, 9 December 2005 (UTC)[reply]

Very nice! I'll translate it when I'm done with this article (and the tip you gave on using both this and the German one was very good – and I do understand why you were "mad" (is there a better word to use in this context?) – I would have reacted likewise. Also, there is a reason the article is featured, and I don't question the featurification(!). Jon Harald Søby \ no na 19:04, 9 December 2005 (UTC)[reply]

Source for Fountain as brothel[edit]

Is anyone able to give a source for the fact that the Fountain Tavern was a brothel? I can't find confirmation anywhere and would like to use and cite it if true. TW

That came from the David Nokes introduction to the Penguin edition of Jonathan Wild (the Fielding novel). The general subject of the sexual underworld of Augustan England is getting more press these days, but the intro. to that edition is a quicker read. I can come back with the page number, if really needed. Geogre 17:41, 12 June 2006 (UTC)[reply]

Why did you revert my rework on this article?[edit]

I'm trying to rework on the Jonathan Wild article because I thought the rest of the article seems unsourced; I tried to do it last night, but you reverted the article back to the old form! Why? Plus, the "Jack Sheppard struggle" claimed that Jack Sheppard was first arrested in February 1724, while in the Jack Sheppard article he was first arrested in late April!

Plus, this article never mentioned anything about Blueskin working with Wild before being arrested and convicted and slashing Wild's throat with a penknife the way the Jack Sheppard article did! Also, this article mentioned little about Wild's trial and never mentioned anything about his becoming terrified after being sentenced to death, refusing to eat or go to church, and trying to kill himself by drinking opium but vomiting and sinking into a coma.

Even worse, this article made little mention about Wild's hanging and dissection, but not on his burial. I have proof that Wild was buried in the churchyard on St Pancras Old Church before being exhumed and dissected, as shown in his profile on Find A Can I rework on this article without you trying to revert it to the old form, please? --Angeldeb82 17:56, 29 September 2007 (UTC)[reply]

Oh yes, and I also have the link of Jonathan Wild's trial at the Old Bailey right here. What do you think? --Angeldeb82 18:41, 29 September 2007 (UTC)[reply]
Plus, the dates on Jack Sheppard's capture and escape seem so incorrect compared with those on the Jack Sheppard article. They need to be fixed! --Angeldeb82 18:55, 29 September 2007 (UTC)[reply]

Made a few improvements[edit]

I made a few improvements of this article as follows: I reworked the "Jack Sheppard struggle and downfall" section and corrected the whole thing and added more sources for this, including Blueskin's attempt to murder Wild and Wild's suicide attempt. Plus, I added Wild to the "List of people executed by hanging" section and corrected his possible year of birth as 1682. Oh, and I added his burial too. So what do you think of my improvements? Do you like it? --Angeldeb82 02:10, 30 September 2007 (UTC)[reply]

I'm not trying to dramatize you or anything, I just want to know if you like my improvements. --Angeldeb82 02:32, 30 September 2007 (UTC)[reply]

Chronology in doubt[edit]

The article states March 1710,( jonathan wild was) and sent to Wood Street Counter. Following the link to Wood Street Counter a.k.a Compter this article states that the gaol in question was destroyed in the 1666 fire and not rebuilt until 1791 - making it impossible for Jonathan Wild to have been sent to this particular prison in 1710. Fidelia (talk) 05:37, 23 November 2007 (UTC)[reply]

It's the compter. Some helpful people have been coming along and putting in footnotes to sources that were not used in the writing of this article. This article's sources were Gerald Howson, Daniel Defoe, and various contemporary proceedings now available online. The Wood Street Compter information is present in Defoe's account, which was written in 1728. The article on Wood Street Counter is likely incorrect, or there was another jail on Wood Street, or there was another which picked up the name. Again, Howson has mortality bills from the place, so I think that the article on the jail may have missed something or may be referring to a very specific building that burned and was not rebuilt. Either that or the authors mistook 1691 for 1791 and had a typo. That kind of thing happens. Geogre (talk) 11:38, 23 November 2007 (UTC)[reply]

clarification needed on "inform to x about y"[edit]

I'm honestly puzzled by the following passage:

In July Field informed on Wild about Sheppard, ...

It seems possible that what is meant is "Field informed Wild about Lyon's connection to Sheppard", but  (a) I'm only about ninety percent certain that Field informed Wild, as I've never encountered "inform on x" used to mean anything other than "tell on x", which is to say, "inform (the authorities) about x", while here it seems from context that Wild is being informed rather than being informed on; and  (b) assuming that Field informed Wild, I'm only wildly guessing what information was conveyed, as it really isn't at all clear to me from context. Pi zero (talk) 14:22, 20 January 2008 (UTC)[reply]

Fixed. That's a big section that got "added to" after this article had been written initially. I'm sure that those who did it had the best of information and intentions, but multiple hands created a bit of a mess. Anyway, the sense is, "Field told Wild that Sheppard had escaped and was with his girlfriend, so Wild went to find her (since she was easier to find and weaker), got her drunk, and found out from her where to get and arrest Sheppard." It should be fixed now. Geogre (talk) 14:33, 20 January 2008 (UTC)[reply]
P.S. the problem with the sentence was, as you say, "inform on." That idiom usually means, "To inform the police about," to "rat out," to "fink," etc. Normally, it would be "Field informed on Sheppard," which would imply, "Field sold out the trust Sheppard had in him but informing the police (Wild)." The idiom was a bit fouled, though, in this context. Geogre (talk) 14:35, 20 January 2008 (UTC)[reply]
Well, in the Jack Sheppard article, Field told Wild about Sheppard after the July 12, 1724, robbery with Sheppard, Field and Blueskin, with the cloth they had stolen to present to Wild as evidence against Sheppard. You should check that article, though. --Angeldeb82 (talk) 04:23, 15 February 2008 (UTC)[reply]

External Links[edit]

The external link "" is no longer active and should be changed to the current URL "".

Rictornorton (talk) 12:11, 19 January 2014 (UTC)[reply]

I agree. Your own addition of the working link was reverted as "self-promotion", but I've reverted back. Wikipedia deserves working links. But did you notice that the similar link you added at Luigi del Riccio was dead also? Perhaps you can fix it. Bishonen | talk 13:43, 19 January 2014 (UTC).[reply]

Many thanks -- Yes, I think I've corrected the Luigi del Riccio link. Rictornorton (talk) 14:26, 19 January 2014 (UTC)[reply]

Assessment comment[edit]

The comment(s) below were originally left at Talk:Jonathan Wild/Comments, and are posted here for posterity. Following several discussions in past years, these subpages are now deprecated. The comments may be irrelevant or outdated; if so, please feel free to remove this section.

needs inline citations and lead should conform to WP:LEAD --plange 21:03, 24 September 2006 (UTC)[reply]

Last edited at 21:03, 24 September 2006 (UTC). Substituted at 20:29, 29 April 2016 (UTC)

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Height 12 m (39 ft 4 in)m[edit]

To what does "Height 12 m (39 ft 4 in)m" even refer? SalineBrain (talk) 03:16, 24 January 2018 (UTC)[reply]