The story is dedicated to "Henry Pain, Esq.," also known as Henry Neville Payne, a Roman Catholic agitator who was later arrested and tortured for his involvement in the Montgomery Plot of 1689.
In The Fair Jilt, Behn claims that the story is true and that she witnessed much of it herself. Editor Montague Summers writes in his introduction to The Works of Aphra Behn (1915) that the story is only loosely based on actual events: "With all the nice skill of a born novelist she has so mingled fact and fancy, what did occur and what might have been, that any attempt to disentangle the twain would be idle indeed." There was in fact a Prince Tarquino who was condemned to death by beheading in 1666 for the attempted murder of his sister-in-law. The London Gazette reported that the prince was only slightly wounded due to a mistake by the executioner, and was subsequently pardoned.