John "Sixteen String Jack" Rann
(1750 – November 30, 1774) was an English criminal and highwayman during the mid-18th century. He was a prominent and colourful local figure renowned for his wit and charm, he would later come to be known as "Sixteen String Jack" for the 16 various coloured strings he wore on the knees of his silk breeches
among other eccentric costumes.
Born near Bath
in Somerset, England
, he served as a postillion
to a local woman and during his teenage years worked as coachman in London. He soon became accustomed to living beyond his means, such as wearing expensive costumes for which to attend balls and galas of the city's social circles, and was constantly in debt as a result.
He began pick-pocketing with some success eventually stealing watches and other valuables along Hounslow Road
, however soon became a highwayman and, although he was arrested several times on charges of highway robbery, six of his cases were dismissed due to lack of evidence as witnesses were unable to identify Rann.
During one trial at Bow Street
, while wearing an unusually large number of flowers in his coat and his iron
decorated with blue ribbons, Rann reportedly addressed the presiding magistrate Sir John Fielding "I know no more of the matter than you do or half as much"
when he was asked if he had anything to say in his defense.
He was finally apprehended after robbing the chaplain of Princess Amelia
in 1774 and, held in custody at......