Dick Swift - Thieftaker of the City of London, Teaching his Son the Commandments: 1765

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Dick Swift - Thieftaker of the City of London, Teaching his Son the Commandments: 1765
4 0 c m
 
30cm
actual image size: 22cm x 28cm

Full image caption

'Dick Swift - Thieftaker of the City of London, teaching his son the commandments'. In mockery of a picture on the wall, Swift sits at a table holding a Bible, open at the Ten Commandments for his son, standing beside him, to learn. The page has been torn so that the 8th Commandment reads Thou Shalt Steal - which his son is doing, picking his father's pocket. Swift was sentenced to 14 years transportation at the Old Bailey on 2 May 1764, for receiving stolen candles. In April 1765 he appeared again for returning from transportation and was again sentenced to be transported. Available records give no indication of his being a thieftaker - at his first trial he claimed to keep a pub. In a report of his imminent second trial in the Gentlemen's Magazine he is introduced as 'the noted Dick Swift' and there is an account of how boys are taught to steal and a further report on his arrest in Coventry and acquittal due to an error in the record.

© Museum of London

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