This was the lead character in a series of ‘smuggler’ books first published in 1915. There is a brand new book published this very week about him.
Created by Russell Thorndike, ‘Clegg’ was written as a one off novel character with no real consideration given at the time to any future tales of the Dymchurch Vicar or his associates. But such was the popularity of his character that a further six novels were published some twenty years after the original release and these were written as prequels.
Clegg escaped the noose at Rye early in his criminal life so had to live a phoney ‘ordained’ life with his true identity known only to Mr Mipps, the church Sexton. Just how he managed to be a pirate and meet the demands of Theological study remains unknown.
Although he is regarded by churchgoers as a respectable man of the seaside village, to most people Clegg is “The Scarecrow”, the feared leader of the “Marsh Men”. A gang of smugglers that travel the Romney Marsh on horseback at night.
Sadly the whole story ended up in the millionaire clutches of Walt Disney who like many of his cartoon stories massacred the real story and copyrighted it to within an inch of its life.
Knowing the real Kent village of Dymchurch as I do, I can actually boast of being captured as one of Doctor Syn’s men during a 1980′s reenactment of the story, and just like ‘Captain Clegg’ I managed to run up a flight of steps during my attempted arrest and evade capture.
But unlike Clegg (and old Nick) I managed to get away without being hung, drawn and quartered.