This is a list of the most successful hoaxers from the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography:

1: Horace De Vere Cole

Horace De Vere Cole was a man devoted to, one might almost say obsessed by, practical jokes. His most memorable prank was probably giving carefully selected free theatre tickets to bald men so that when their gleaming pates were seen from the Upper Circle a rather rude word could clearly be seen. Whether impersonating foreign dignitaries to the consternation of senior naval officals or shocking Edwardian society by performing astoundingly vulgar tricks with a cow’s udder in public thoroughfares his was a life devoted to, and ultimately squandered on, the pursuit of japery. Click here for more

2: Henry de la Poer Beresford

The wildly unpredictable third marquess of Waterford was never conclusively linked with the mystery of Spring-Heeled Jack, the demonic apparition who terrorised the women of South London in the 1830s, but ‘the Mad Marquis’ certainly had the athleticism and the temperament to be at the root of Battersea’s own Urban Legend. Click here for more

3: Charles Dawson

Although he could conceivably been the hapless victim of the Piltdown man hoax, it’s perhaps kinder to think of Charles Dawson as the perpetrator of that celebrated piece of archaeological fakery. Hailed at the time as ‘by far the most important ever made in England, and of equal, if not of greater consequence than any other discovery yet made, either at home or abroad’, the Piltdown Man skull later proved to be the combination of two quite disparate hominids. From its ‘discovery’ in 1912 to the exposure of the fraud in the 1950s, Eoanthropus dawsoni was considered as the ‘missing link’ between ape and man. Click here for more

4: Elizabeth Parsons

Perhaps the most successful fake haunting in history is the Cock Lane Ghost.. The site of the haunting, in Cock Lane in the City of London, attracted many curious observers. The Duke of York and Samuel Johnson were just two dignitaries who were drawn to witness the celebrated phenomena. They were, of course, entirely fraudulent – the work of an eleven-year-old girl called Elizabeth Parsons who convinced witnesses by means of assorted scratchings, feats of ventriloquism and bumps in the night that the house was inhabited by the shade of girl murdered by a former lodger. Her father ended up standing trial for the imposture, and was sentenced to the pillory, but remained comparatively untouched by a sympathetic London mob. Click here for more

5: Mary Willcocks

On Good Friday 1817, a young woman wearing a black turban and speaking an unknown language was found wandering in Almondsbury, north-east of Bristol. Convincing the locals that she was the exotic Princess Caraboo, she was the centre of much excitement, involving dancing, swimming, and the cooking of chicken curries. It was only in the June of that year that the princess was exposed as Mary Willcocks, a former nursemaid from Witheridge. She continued to trade on the Princess Caraboo name even after exposure, finally dying in a houseful of cats at the turn of the last Century. Click here for more

6: Frances Griffiths

Frances Griffiths and Elsie Wright were the teenage cousins behind the still-famous Cottingley Fairies photographs. Although the pictures did not initially fool the family members to which the girls showed them, in 1920 they came to the attention of celebrated author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who had become obsessed with the supernatural after the loss of his son in the Great War. He made a cause célèbre of the photos, which made it almost impossible for the girls to admit their deception. They maintained the veracity of the images for over sixty-five years, only confessing that the ‘fairies’ were in fact paper cut-outs in 1983. Click here for more

7: Theodore Hook

Theodore Hook anticipated and eclipsed the modern ‘unrequited takeaway pizza prank’ by orchestrating in 1809 a day-long series of deliveries and official visits to the home of one Mrs.Tottenham, who had previously slighted the mercurial writer. Click here for more

8: Elizabeth Crofts

In 1554, during the reign of Queen Mary I, a crowd of as many as 17,000 was attracted to Aldersgate steet in London to hear the anti-Catholic pronouncements uttered apparently by an invisible spirit who became known as ‘The Bird in the Wall’. After several days, the wall from which the voice appeared to emanate was torn down to reveal a serving maid, Elizabeth Crofts, who had apparently been persuaded by one or more Protestant nobles to perpetrate the fraud. Despite the harsh penalties for treason and religious non-conformism prevalent at that time, Crofts seemed to suffer little punishment for her actions and was never heard of again after the incident. Click here for more

9: Archibald Belaney

Hastings-born Archibald Belaney had a lifelong interest in American tribes of the Old West and it was no surprise when he emigrated to Canada in 1906 to live as a trapper. It was rather surprising though that, after achieving success as an author under the name Grey Owl he gave his biography to Canadian Who’s Who as: ‘Born encampment, State of Sonora, Mexico, son of George, a native of Scotland, and Kathrine (Cochise) Belaney; a half-breed Apache Indian … adopted as blood-brother by Ojibway tribe, 1920 … speaks Ojibway but has forgotten Apache.’ On 10 December 1937, on his second British lecture tour, Grey Owl, the modern Hiawatha, gave a command performance at Buckingham Palace attended by Queen Mary, King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, and the two princesses. It wasn’t until after his death that his true identity was exposed, with Archie having deceived readers across the English-speaking world. Click here for more

10: Mary Toft

Mary Toft, born in 1703, and described as illiterate, was of small stature, with a healthy, strong constitution, and a sullen temper. Despite her humble origins she was able to fool several eminent London physicians including King George I’s doctor, Sir Richard Manningham, into believing that she had given birth to a large litter of rabbits. Only when threatened with dissection by a group of Royal physicians was she persuaded to recant her story. Toft’s case echoed that of Agnes Bowker from Market Harborough, Leicestershire, who was said to have given birth to a cat. Unlike Toft, Bowker never confessed to a hoax, and although deceit was suspected by the then bishop of London, she may, indeed, have been the cat’s mother. Click here for more

Taken from The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

EDIT: Oxford University Press have changed their website so I suggest searching their site here.