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Lord Nithsdale's Escape from the Tower of London

Source: Historic Royal Palaces

Tower of London

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.

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Tower of London: Famous Prisoners

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Hampton Court Palace: Textile Conservation Studio

 

Text copyright © HRP. Used by permission.