Open main menu


HANNAM, RICHARD (d. 1656), robber, was son of a shoemaker of Shaftesbury, Dorsetshire. He was apprenticed to a silk weaver in London, but left to become a tapster, and finally joined a gang of thieves. He engaged in burglary unaccompanied by violence, and speedily gained great notoriety. Early in his career he was apprehended for a robbery of plate from the Earl of Pembroke, but escaped and left the country. He stayed abroad some time and visited various countries. In Denmark he is said to have robbed the royal treasury of vast sums, and then to have obtained from the queen of Sweden 4,000l. in gold, besides plate and jewellery . After this adventure he was caught and imprisoned, but escaped to Rotterdam, where he introduced himself as a merchant, and won a fair repute for upright dealing. He waited his opportunity, and got away to England with large sums entrusted to him by broker merchants and drawn from the bank by forged signatures. He was soon compelled to leave London and went to Paris, where he was imprisoned and made a marvellous escape. Returning to England he lived for a time in grand style as a peaceable citizen, but in 1654, together with confederates, planned an extensive burglary at the house of an alderman in Fleet Street. Two men and a woman were caught and hanged for this attempt, and later Hannam was also captured. He was condemned on a Saturday to die on the following Monday, but by promising to give information as to the thieves who had been concerned in a robbery from the French ambassador, he obtained a respite, and escaped. Being left unmolested he turned coiner. He was concerned with his father-in-law in a petty robbery on an alehouse-keeper, and, in revenge for the capture of his companion, returned to the scene and stabbed their 'victim. He was arrested and, after trial, was hanged at Smithfield on 17 June 1656.

[The Witty Rogue … the History of that incomparable thief Richard Hainam (sic) 1656 Hannam's Last Farewell to the World, being a full and true account and relation of the notorious life and shamefull death of Mr. K. H., the great obber of England, &c.; several similar pamphlets dated 1656.]

A. V.