Ellie Crimple; known in the community mainly for pick pocketing, pilfering and beak hunting, has just spent time away in Newgate prison. Upon her release she quickly goes back to her old ways, only this time she uses a different approach in stealing from the rich. Highwaymen have long ruled the country lanes where unsuspecting travellers have been the target of their desires. Ellie is not afraid to try this tactic and soon begins her new quest dressed as a highwayman, robbing the wealthy and relying on her trusted stallion, Bow, to speedily ride through the country lanes of Spitalfields. But don’t let her timid build fool you, her pistols, Henry and Toby, will do the talking if you don’t comply.
Standing outside the prison gates, I wondered where I was headed to first. Not too many places to choose from, I was certain of that. No, an officer’s nark saw well and true to that, and I have a pretty good idea who that bleedin’ nark was an’ all. They’ll get their dues from me just like I paid my narking dues doing bird. Only theirs will be much worse than what I had just gone through. Being a common criminal ain’t all it’s cracked up to be you know. It takes skill and lots of practice, harder than a full day’s work sometimes, not that I’ve ever done a hard day’s work in my entire life but I do have a good imagination what it would be like.
So how’s a girl like me gonna get her next meal, stay warm in this dismal English weather and keep from the likes of getting caught in an awkward situation? I know how, I know all the tricks of the trade. I’ll have myself a few shillings by the end of the day, you mark my words, I will. No time for tears either, they all dried up long ago, when I was small. Ada Crimple took on the role calling herself my mother but she ain’t no mother of any sorts. A right old mean crab, that one is. She gave me a nice old present when I reached puberty, gave me away to a bloke twice my age and said to him that I was worth all of half a crown, being as I had never been touched by anyone else before. I cried my eyes out till they was dried and sore and I couldn’t shed another drop after that. No, I grew up pretty fast in Whites Row in Spitalfields, an area ripe with poverty and filled with highwaymen striking the unsuspecting travellers as they passed close by. I became a petty thief just so my mother wouldn’t bother me with the likes of another disgusting fella again. Kept her happy with a constant supply of booze, which was enough for her…
I looked behind me at the two stone towers that housed the wrought iron drop gate in the centre. The beauty and splendour it held was overshadowed by its cruel history of painful torture and death within its walls. Yesterday, Elma Tindell was topped. They hung her in front of the prison for all to stand and watch. She was a right gobby cow, told too many lies and stole from her employer. She worked as a scullery maid in a house not so far from here and they caught her pilfering from the pantry. She fed her family with a few treats of fresh crusty bread and a chunk of ham taken from a large joint meant for a family gathering later in the week.