According to lexicographers, there is no particular Billy and the term remains generic. The term came from the early 1990s as a T-shirt slogan. It passed effortlessly into the OED to describe someone who appears to have no friends.
The phrase ‘Jack the Lad’ has been around approximately 300 years. Legend has it that the original ‘lad’ was called Jack Shepperd, a 22 year old whose thievery became notorious. He was arrested and imprisoned four times but escaped each time despite, on one occasion, being handcuffed to the floor of his cell. Shepperd became a hero to the poorer classes as someone who didn’t take life too seriously and saw everything as a game.
However, Jack was hanged on the gallows in Tyburn and his execution was watched reportedly by 200,000 people. His body now lies in the churchyard of St Martin-in-the-Fields.