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a tale of Restoration intrigue by

Molly Brown

Lincoln's Inn Fields

Lincoln's Inn Fields (Cup Field, Purse Field and Ficket's Field) were bounded on the north side by Newman's Row, on the west by Arch Row, named after the archway leading into Duke Street, on the south by Portugal Row, where the Portuguese ambassador had his embassy, and on the east by Lincoln's Inn Wall. On the north side, leading into Holborn, were Great and Little Turnstile.

In the later part of the 17th century these fields became a gathering place for various rogues as well as the homeless. "A Lincoln's Inn mumper" was a proverbial expression, a mumper being gypsy cant for a beggar or dishonest vagabond. Many of these mumpers were "rufflers", impersonators of maimed soldiers, who molested and begged from the people of fashion who drove through the square.

London Low Life and London Dens:

Lincoln's Inn Fields was the venue for a mock Lord Chancellor's procession led by a well known thief by the name of Thomas Sadler. To the cheers of various mumpers, rufflers and link boys, he and his confederates marched through the fields one evening in a torchlit parade, displaying the Lord Chancellor's mace and purse which they had just stolen from his closet in Great Queen Street. On returning to Sadler's lodgings, the thieves stripped the Lord Chancellor's purse of its fringe and jewels, allowing several pieces to fall to the floor. The suspicions of his landlady's daughter were aroused the next morning when she noticed the costly looking trifles littering her tenant's floor. On opening the cupboard where the mace had been concealed, she immediately rushed to the conclusion that the king's crown had been stolen. Sadler and his confederates were arrested and executed at Tyburn.

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(c) 1996 Molly Brown