Lord Nithsdale's Escape
from the Tower of London
Historic Royal Palaces
ABOVE: The Tower of London.
In 1716, William
Maxwell, Earl of Nithsdale, escaped from the Tower and his impending execution
with the help of his brave young wife and two of her servants.
Lord Nithsdale had been captured and imprisoned during the first
Jacobite Rising and was confined to the Lieutenant's Lodgings. Visiting her
husband on the eve of his execution (unknown to Lady Nithsdale, a reprieve had
been signed that evening), Lady Nithsdale and her servants brought a disguise of
women's clothing and were able to sneak him out without being noticed. Lord
Nithsdale escaped to Rome in the disguise of a servant to a Venetian ambassador,
and his wife soon met him there after returning to Dumfriesshire for their
possessions. They lived together in Rome for 33 years.
This has been described as one of the most audacious escapes
ever made from the Tower. The Nithsdale Cloak, worn by Lord Nithsdale
during his escape, is still in the possession of his descendants.
Tower of London:
Hampton Court Palace: Textile Conservation Studio
© HRP. Used by permission.