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Thomas de Veil

Col. Sir
Thomas de Veil
Thomas de Veil.png
Born 21 November 1684
St Paul's Churchyard, Ludgate Hill, City of London, London
Died 7 October 1746 (aged 62)
Bow Street, Covent Garden, Westminster, London
Cause of death Apoplectic stroke
Resting place Denham, Buckinghamshire
Nationality English
Occupation Justice of the Peace
Years active 1726-1746
Successor Henry Fielding

Sir Thomas de Veil (21 November 1684 – 7 October 1746), also known as deVeil, was Bow Street's first magistrate; he was known for having enforced the Gin Act in 1736, and, with Sir John Gonson, Henry Fielding, and John Fielding, was responsible for creating the first professional police and justice system in England.

Thomas de Veil was born in St Paul's Churchyard, London, in 1684. The identity of his parents is unclear: while a contemporary biographer had pinpointed Revd. Dr. Hans de Veil as his father, the parish of St Augustine, London, records the birth of a Thomas de Veil to Lewis de Compiègne de Veil and his wife, Anne, on 21 November 1684. While the name of his father remains unsettled, it is known he was a Frenchman originally from the Lorraine, and that he was a Huguenot.

De Veil is said to have left home when he was 15 years old to learn the trade of mercer in a shop in Queen street, near Cheapside. When his master's business failed after few months, he enlisted as a private in the War of the Spanish Succession. He fought at Cadiz and Vigo in 1702 and at Almanza in 1707, and caught the attention of Colonel Martin Bladen, with whom he remained friends for the rest of his life, and the Earl of Galway, who would then bestow upon him a troop of dragoons.

By the time the war ended in 1713, Thomas de Veil had attained the rank of lieutenant colonel in the Red Regiment of Westminster. Returning to England, he borrowed a great deal of money to restore his fortunes, which in turn ran up a considerable debt. He retired to the countryside and lived upon the half pay provided by the army until he had dispensed of his debts, upon which he returned to London in search of a second source of income, and became a political lobbyist with an office in Whitehall: his work at this time consisted of "soliciting at the war-office, the treasury, and other public boards, drawing petitions, cases, and representations, memorials, and such kind of papers, for which he kept an office in Scotland-yard". Thanks to his diligence, and the interest of many former acquaintances like Martin Bladen, he was made a justice of the peace and was appointed to the commissions of the peace of Middlesex and Westminster in 1729.

  • Anonymous (1748), Memoirs of the Life and Times, of Sir Thomas Deveil, knight, London: M. Cooper 
  • Chamberlayne, John (1737), Magnae Britanniae Notitia 
  • Dillon, Patrick (2004), Gin: The Much-lamented Death of Madam Geneva, Justin, Charles & Co. 
  • Dunston, Gregory J. (2012), Whores and Highwaymen, Sherfield Gables: Waterside Press 
  • Emsley, Clive; Hitchcock, Tim; Shoemaker, Robert (March 2015), "London History - London, 1715-1760", Old Bailey Proceedings Online (7.0 ed.) 
  • Howard, Sharon; Hitchcock, Tim; Shoemaker, Robert (April 2012), "Background - Justices of the Peace and the Pre-Trial Process", London Lives (1.1 ed.) 
  • Senior, Hereward (1 January 1997), Constabulary, Toronto: Dundurn Press 
  • Sugden, Philip (2004). "Veil, Sir Thomas de (1684–1746)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/38735.  (subscription required)
  • Tatsch, Jacob (2008), "Freemason William Hogarth", 


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