Where is Dick? It’s the question all York is asking

Dick Turpin, aka Simon Alnaimi, next to his York gravestone. Photographs: Richard McDougall
5 Jul 2017 @ 3.43 pm
| History

Today we bring you the latest instalment of a grave mystery.

As most people in York know, notorious thief and highwayman Dick Turpin was tried, executed and buried in the city.

And many have visited St George’s Churchyard on George Street to see the gravestone which is said to mark his last resting place.

But YorkMix readers have known for a while that there are strong doubts as to if his remains remain under there.

Top Turpin scholar and University of York professor James Sharpe told us in 2014 that

Turpin was buried in St George’s churchyard, but it’s very implausible that where the current gravestone is actually marks the location of his original grave.

Now he has done some more research which throws more light on the story.

Increasingly doubtful

Prof James Sharpe and Stuart Jarman join Simon at the graveside
Dick Turpin was tried, convicted of horse theft and sent to the gallows in York in 1739.

James, who wrote Dick Turpin: The Myth of the English Highwayman, says contemporary accounts reveal that his body was taken from the gallows and buried in St George’s graveyard.

“While researching my book I became increasingly sceptical that the grave visible today actually contains Dick Turpin’s remains,” he said.

“It is unlikely that a convicted felon would be buried in a marked grave and all of the other gravestones in the small graveyard date from after Turpin’s death.”

The York Dungeon has a new show based around Dick Turpin. They asked James to do some more digging – not literally – and he uncovered new evidence that casts further doubt on the final resting place of Dick Turpin.

My investigation of new sources shows that there was no Dick Turpin headstone in St George’s graveyard prior to 1918, meaning the current headstone is a recent addition.

Wherever Dick Turpin is buried is a mystery, but it seems very unlikely that he’s under the current headstone.

– Prof James Sharpe

‘It’s amazing’

Anyone seen Mr T?
“After nearly 300 years it is amazing to think there may be another twist to the Dick Turpin story, and one we hope to look deeper into in the future,” said York Dungeon’s general manager Stuart Jarman.

“At the dungeon we are renowned for presenting fascinating aspects of history in a scary, fun and entertaining way, but we always strive for historical accuracy.

“There is a mystery surrounding what happened to Dick Turpin’s body, which we’d like to get to the bottom of.”

The Dick Turpin show returns to York Dungeon on July 18 – more details here.