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Charles Peace at his murder trial in 1879
Charles Frederick Peace was a notorious English burglar and murderer from Sheffield, whose somewhat remarkable life later spawned dozens of novels and films. Peace is mentioned by name in the Sherlock Holmes short story, The Adventure of the Illustrious Client and in Mark Twain’s Captain Stormfield’s Visit to Heaven. Peace's earliest criminal exploit is said to have been stealing an old gentleman's gold watch, and he soon passed to burglary.
On October 26, 1851, the house of a lady in Sheffield was broken into; some of the stolen property was found in the possession of Peace, and he was arrested. Owing to a character reference from his former employer, he was let off with only a month's imprisonment. Out of prison, Peace quickly turned to a life of crime committing numerous burglaries for which he served almost 20 years in prison (on and off). On November 29, 1876, Peace murdered a former friend, a civil engineer named Arthur Dyson. He fled to his home as a hue and cry went up. He was trailed by police but managed to give them the slip by using different disguises. He continually moved around the country to avoid law enforcement. After nearly two years on the run, he was finally apprehended on October 10, 1878, while burglarizing a house in St. John’s Park, Blackheath. He was eventually found guilty of Dyson’s murder and executed on February 25, 1879 at Armley Prison.
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