Alice Wolf and The Pirate’s Gallows

One of the people who spent some time in the Tower of London was Alice Wolf, a common thief who murdered two merchants – Jerome de George and Chales Benche with her husband John Wolf on 16th January 1533. 

Alice had enticed the men onto a boat, whereupon they were killed and their bodies thrown overboard.

Alice and her husband then went to the merchant’s lodgings and stole a large amount of money.

At first John Wolf was the only one to be imprisoned, and in fact briefly let free. But it was decided the pair were too dangerous and so they were both locked up again in the Tower.

Alice was held in chains as it was thought “if the diabolic woman should escape we shall be in great jeopardy”

She managed to charm the servants of the Lieutenant to get her shackles removed, and to receive better treatment.

Bawde, one of the servants, helped her to escape by bringing ropes – but the pair of them were captured and returned to the tower.

Bawde would be executed for his part, after being tortured in “A Little Ease”

John Wolf was in a different part of the tower.

It’s thought he knew of his wife’s plans, although he himself did not manage to escape.John and Alice were sentenced to “hanging by chains” in March 1534 – a gruesome method of execution where the prisoners were hung at low tide at The Pirate’s Gallows in Wapping – where the rising water would drown them.

This was the punishment for crimes committed on water.

Locked Up In The Tower is supported by Historic Royal Palaces