An extraordinary Irish adventurer whose most famous feat was to steal some of the Crown Jewels from the Tower of London in 1671. He may have been a spy, double agent, who knows what. He is best known as Colonel Blood, not Thomas Blood, so that's how I've titled this.

Born in about 1618 in County Clare, Thomas Blood moved to England early on, married in 1648, and fought on the Parliamentary side in the Civil War, and was deprived of his estate at the Restoration of the monarchy. Thereafter his life seems to have been one busy whirl of plots.

1663. Plots to seize Dublin Castle, and its lord lieutenant the Duke of Ormonde. He is disguised as a Quaker and as a priest. Plot discovered. Accomplices put to death. Blood escapes to Holland after daring attempt to free accomplices. Price on his head.

1666. Fights for Covenanters in Scotland at Rullion Green.

1667. Rescues a friend of his, a Captain Mason, being escorted to York by government troops. Running gun battle, several dead, Mason rescued. Blood goes into hiding under the name Thomas Allen. Price on his head raised to £500.

1670. On 6 December he has another go at Ormonde. He intercepts the good duke in his coach and attempts to drag him off and hang him at Tyburn Tree. In this plot he was later said to have been secretly assisted by the Duke of Buckingham.

1671. On 9 May he disguises himself as a clergyman and with a couple of accomplices breaks into the Tower of London, half kills the keeper of the Crown Jewels, and makes off with them. (In this disguise he had earlier built up a friendship with the keeper, Talbot Edwards, to the point of agreeing on marriage between Edwards' daughter and Blood's non-existent nephew.) They don't get far, and he is recaptured. King Charles II later visits him, spares him, and restores his estate, at the instigation of Buckingham. He becomes a royal adviser. Pension of £500 per year.

1680. Quarrels with Buckingham, committed for trial, bailed, but dies on 24 August before it comes to an outcome. His body was exhumed to make quite sure that he was, in fact, dead, and not just pulling another Colonel Blood fast one.

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