Highwaymen were dashing fops who terrorised the highways and byways of Olde England for centuries, until budget cuts forced them to be replaced by traffic wardens in 1992.
The Golden Age
Highwaymen were dandy, and spent their cash on looking flash and grabbing people's attention. Often people were too scared to mention them, such was the fear they induced in the law-abiding public.
A particularly famous case was the 'Ant Affair' of 1752. Sir Sidney Dropkick, a wealthy squire, had invented a primitive personal stereo, and was making his way by stagecoach to London from his home, Dropkick Hall in Somerset, in order to present his invention to the Royal Society.
Adam Ant, the dandiest and most feared of the highwaymen, was up a tree reading an editorial in ſmash Hitſ, in which Samuel Johnson attacked the idea of the stereo, commenting Thiſ vile contrivance, the ſo-called 'perſonal ſtereo', ſhall ſurely lead to the end of live muſic. Ant agreed, and could not believe his luck when he saw Sir Sidney passing beneath him, bopping along to the latest Mozart album. He leapt down, uttered the famous call of 'ſtand and deliver!' and held Sir Sidney and his wife at gunpoint. With a cry of 'The Devil take your ſtereo and your record collection!', Ant smashed Sir Sidney's prized possessions. Ant then continued to taunt Sir Sidney, implying that he looked old enough to draw a pension, was a 'ſcruff' and wasn't worth robbing anyway.
Stung by these remarks, Sir Sidney returned to Dropkick Hall to raise his spirits with a banquet. Unfortunately for Sir Sidney, Ant had not finished with him. He followed him back to the Hall, and burst in through a window with the banquet in full flow, prancing around on the tables and making a nuisance of himself. Sir Sidney was furious, and ordered the local constabulary to take Ant to the gallows. Ant, however, escaped the scaffold with a group of fellow-dandies (known as "the Ants") and a successful music career followed. Sir Sidney, dejected, gave up working on anachronisms and devoted the rest of his life to the violent act which now bears his name.
The Ant Affair was the basis of an Open University documentary in 1982, entitled Stand and Deliver: Sociological Aspects of Highway Robbery in 18th Century England.
A Typical Highwayman
A typical highwayman dresses as a dandy, with delightful frills and various colours in order to distract and generally confuse those who they steal from. They enjoy being called 'fiend', 'scally - wag' and 'squire' as it stimulates them emotionally. They will normally carry a firearm, such as two pistols that can fire balls of lead. They prefer to steal from women, although the reason for this is unknown. Finally all highwaymen speak poetically, using rhetoric and rhyme. While this shows their devotion to the dandy, it again covers them in a fog of incoherence.
- Rick Turnip was a Devon yeoman who took to a life of crime after having his fields torched by a gang of roistering customs officers. He waited with sword and pistol by the highways of Devon, pouncing on passing stagecoaches and demanding turnips. Unfortunately, while the stagecoaches usually contained large quantities of jewels and bullion, they rarely yielded turnips, and so Rick often had to go hungry. He refused to rob the constant stream of turnip carts that travelled the county, believing that, as a highwayman, carts were ‘beneath him’.
- Turbot MacKenzie terrorised the Glasgow ring roads in 1975 while under the impression that it was 1795. He is famous for stealing £1.24 and a sherbet dip from a family at a service station in Fife, however due to the somewhat petty amount being taken, he was let off with a conditional discharge and a ticking off from the local magistrate. He died in September 1975 after attempting to hold up an 18-wheel lorry.
- Dennis Moore was a swashbuckling highwayman from the 17th century. He was famous for stealing lentils from the rich and giving them to the poor. He successfully stole 73.4% of all lentils from the landed gentry during his career, redistributing them to lower classes all across Northamptonshire. His life as been documented in a number of episodes of Monty Python's Flying Circus, a crude and disturbing documentary that presents the harsh realities of British Society.
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about highways, and the men who rob/patrol them