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Works by William Andrews.
Mr. Andrews' books are always interesting.—Church Bells.
No student of Mr. Andrews' books can be a dull after-dinner speaker, for his writings are full of curious out-of-the-way information and good stories.—Birmingham Daily Gazette.
England in the Days of Old.
A most delightful work.—Leeds Mercury.
A valuable contribution to archaeological lore.—Chester Courant.
It is of much value as a book of reference, and it should find its way into the library of every student of history and folk-lore.—Norfolk Chronicle.
Mr. Andrews has the true art of narration, and contrives to give us the results of his learning with considerable freshness of style, whilst his subjects are always interesting and picturesque.—Manchester Courier.
An interesting volume.—Church Bells.
A readable volume about authors and books.... Like Mr. Andrews' other works, the book shews wide, out-of-the-way reading.—Glasgow Herald.
Turn where you will, there is entertainment and information in this book.—Birmingham Daily Gazette.
An entertaining volume.... No matter where the book is opened the reader will find some amusing and instructive matter.—Dundee Advertiser.
The Church Treasury of History, Custom, Folk-Lore, etc.
It is a work that will prove interesting to the clergy and churchmen generally, and to all others who have an antiquarian turn of mind, or like to be regaled occasionally by reading old-world customs and anecdotes.—Church Family Newspaper.
Mr. Andrews has given us some excellent volumes of Church lore, but none quite so good as this. The subjects are well chosen. They are treated brightly, and with considerable detail, and they are well illustrated. The volume is full of information, well and pleasantly put.—London Quarterly Review.
Those who seek information regarding curious and quaint relics or customs will find much to interest them in this book. The illustrations are good.—Publishers' Circular.
Curious Church Customs.
A thoroughly excellent volume.—Publishers' Circular.
We are indebted to Mr. Andrews for an invaluable addition to our library of folk-lore and we do not think that many who take it up will slip a single page.—Dundee Advertiser.
Mr. Andrews is too practised an historian not to have made the most of his subject.—Review of Reviews.
A handsomely got up and interesting volume.—The Fireside.
* * * * *
London: William Andrews & Co., 5, Farringdon Avenue, E.C.
[Device: WILLIAM ANDREWS & CO.
THE HULL PRESS]
HANGING IN CHAINS 39
HANGING, DRAWING, AND QUARTERING 79
PRESSING TO DEATH 87
BURNING TO DEATH 98
BOILING TO DEATH 106
THE HALIFAX GIBBET 118
THE SCOTTISH MAIDEN 128
THE PILLORY 143
PUNISHING AUTHORS AND BURNING BOOKS 159
FINGER PILLORY 171
THE JOUGS 176
THE STOCKS 186
THE DRUNKARD'S CLOAK 201
WHIPPING AND WHIPPING-POSTS 209
PUBLIC PENANCE 227
THE REPENTANCE STOOL 239
THE DUCKING-STOOL 243
THE BRANK, OR SCOLD'S BRIDLE 276
RIDING THE STANG 299
About twenty-five years ago I commenced investigating the history of obsolete punishments, and the result of my studies first appeared in the newspapers and magazines. In 1881 was issued "Punishments in the Olden Time," and in 1890 was published "Old Time Punishments": both works were well received by the press and the public, quickly passing out of print, and are not now easily obtainable. I contributed in 1894 to the Rev. Canon Erskine Clarke's popular monthly, the Parish Magazine, a series of papers entitled "Public Punishments of the Past." The foregoing have been made the foundation of the present volume; in nearly every instance I have re-written the articles, and provided additional chapters. This work is given to the public as my final production on this subject, and I trust it may receive a welcome similar to that accorded to my other books, and throw fresh light on some of the lesser known byways of history.
THE HULL PRESS, August 11th, 1898.
The usual mode of capital punishment in England for many centuries has been, and still is, hanging. Other means of execution have been exercised, but none have been so general as death at the hands of the hangman. In the Middle Ages every town, abbey, and nearly all the more important manorial lords had the right of hanging, and the gallows was to be seen almost everywhere.
Representatives of the church often possessed rights in respect to the gallows and its victims. William the Conqueror invested the Abbot of Battle Abbey with authority to save the life of any malefactor he might find about to be executed, and whose life he wished to spare. In the days of Edward I. the Abbot of Peterborough set up a gallows at Collingham, Nottinghamshire, and hanged thereon a thief. This proceeding came under the notice of the Bishop of Lincoln, who, with considerable warmth of temper, declared the Abbot had usurped his rights, since he held from the king's predecessors the liberty of the Wapentake of Collingham and the right of executing criminals. The Abbot declared that Henry III. had given him and his successors "Infangthefe and Utfangthefe in all his hundreds and demesnes." After investigation it was decided that the Abbot was in the wrong, and he was directed to take down the gallows he had erected. One, and perhaps the chief reason of the prelate being so particular to retain his privileges was on account of its entitling him to the chattels of the condemned man.
Little regard was paid for human life in the reign of Edward I. In the year 1279, not fewer than two hundred and eighty Jews were hanged for clipping coin, a crime which has brought many to the gallows. The following historic story shows how slight an offence led to death in this monarch's time. In 1285, at the solicitation of Quivil, the Bishop of Exeter, Edward I. visited Exeter to enquire into the circumstances relating to the assassination of Walter Lichdale, a precentor of the cathedral, who had been killed one day when returning from matins. The murderer made his escape during the night and could not be found. The Mayor, Alfred Dunport, who had held the office on eight occasions, and the porter of the Southgate, were both tried and found guilty of a neglect of duty in omitting to fasten the town gate, by which means the murderer escaped from the hands of justice. Both men were condemned to death, and afterwards executed. The unfortunate mayor and porter had not anything to do with the death of the precentor, their only crime being that of not closing the city gate at night, a truly hard fate for neglect of duty.
A hanging reign was that of Henry VIII. It extended over thirty-seven years, and during that period it is recorded by Stow that 72,000 criminals were executed.
In bygone times were observed some curious ordinances for the conduct of the Court of Admiralty of the Humber. Enumerated are the various offences of a maritime character, and their punishment. In view of the character of the court, the punishment was generally to be inflicted at low-water mark, so as to be within the proper jurisdiction of the Admiralty, the chief officer of which, the Admiral of the Humber, being from the year 1451, the Mayor of Hull. The court being met, and consisting of "masters, merchants, and mariners, with all others that do enjoy the King's stream with hook, net, or any engine," were addressed as follows: "You masters of the quest, if you, or any of you, discover or disclose anything of the King's secret counsel, or of the counsel of your fellows (for the present you are admitted to be the King's Counsellors), you are to be, and shall be, had down to the low-water mark, where must be made three times, O Yes! for the King, and then and there this punishment, by the law prescribed, shall be executed upon them; that is, their hands and feet bound, their throats cut, their tongues pulled out, and their bodies thrown into the sea." The ordinances which they were bound to observe, include the following: "You shall inquire, whether any man in port or creek have stolen any ropes, nets, cords, etc., amounting to the value of ninepence; if he have, he must be hanged for the said crimes, at low-water mark." "If any person has removed the anchor of any ships, without licence of the master or mariners, or both, or if anyone cuts the cable of a ship at anchor, or removes or cuts away a buoy; for any of the said offences, he shall be hanged at low-water mark." "All breakers open of chests, or pickers of locks, coffers, or chests, etc., on shipboard, if under the value of one and twenty pence, they shall suffer forty days' imprisonment; but, if above, they must be hanged as aforesaid." "If any loderman takes upon himself the rule of any ship, and she perishes through his carelessness and negligence, if he comes to land alive with two of his company, they two may chop off his head without any further suit with the King or his Admiralty." The sailor element of the population of the olden days was undeniably rude and refractory, the above rules showing that the authorities needed stern and swift measures to repress evildoers of that class.
A curious Derbyshire story is told, taking us back to Tudor times, illustrating the strange superstitions and the power exercised by the nobility in that era. Some three hundred years ago the Peak of Derbyshire was ruled by the iron hand of Sir George Vernon, who, from the boundless magnificence of his hospitality at the famous Hall of Haddon, was known throughout the country round as the "King of the Peak." His "kingly" character was further supported by the stern severity with which he dealt with all cases of dispute or crime that came before him, even when human life was concerned; though it must be added, that if strict, he was also just. The following is an instance of his arbitrary and decisive manner of dealing with the lives of those who came beneath his control, and shows his fondness for the exercise of the summary processes of lynch-law. A wandering pedlar was one morning found dead in an unfrequented part, evidently murdered. He had been hawking his goods about the neighbourhood the previous day, and was in the evening observed to enter a certain cottage, and after that was not again seen alive. No sooner had Sir George Vernon become acquainted with these facts than he caused the body to be conveyed to the hall, where it was laid. The man occupying the cottage where the pedlar had last been seen alive was then summoned to attend at the hall immediately, and on arriving was met by the question, what had become of the pedlar who had gone into his cottage on the previous evening? The fellow repudiated any knowledge of him whatever, when the "King of the Peak" turned round, drew off the sheet which had been placed over the dead body, and ordered that everyone present should successively approach and touch it, declaring at the same time each his innocence of the foul murder. The cottar, who had retained his effrontery until now, shrank from the ordeal, and declined to touch the body, running at once out of the hall, through Bakewell village, in the direction of Ashford. Sir George, coming, as he well might, to the conclusion that the suspicions which had pointed to this man had been well founded, ordered his men to take horse and pursue the murderer, and, overtaking him, to hang him on the spot. They did so; he was caught in a field opposite to where the toll-bar of Ashford stood, and there instantly hanged. The field is still called "Galley Acre," or "Gallows Acre," on this account. It is stated that for this exercise of his powers in summary justice Sir George was called upon to appear at London and answer for the act. When he appeared in court he was the first and second time summoned to surrender as the "King of the Peak," but not replying to these, the third time he was called by his proper title of Sir George Vernon, upon which he acknowledged his presence, stepping forward and crying "Here am I." The indictment having been made out against him under the title of "King of the Peak" it was of no effect, and the worst consequence to Sir George was that he received an admonition. He died in 1567, the possessor of thirty Derbyshire manors, and was buried in Bakewell Church, where his altar tomb remains to this day.
Out of the beaten track of the tourist are the gallows at Melton Ross, Lincolnshire, with their romantic history going back to the time when might and not right ruled the land. According to a legend current among the country folk in the locality long, long ago, some lads were playing at hanging, and trying who could hang the longest. One of the boys had suspended himself from a tree when the attention of his mates was attracted by the appearance on the scene of a three-legged hare (the devil), which came limping past. The lads tried to catch him, and in their eager pursuit forgot the critical position of their companion, and on their return found him dead. The gallows is believed by many to have been erected in remembrance of this event.
The story has no foundation in fact. A hare crossing is regarded not only in Lincolnshire, and other parts of England, but in many countries of the world, as indicating trouble to follow.
In the days of old two notable men held lands in the district, Robert Tyrwhitt of Kettleby and Sir William Ross of Melton, and between them was a deadly feud, the outcome, in 1411, of a slight and obscure question on manorial rights. It was alleged that John Rate, steward of Sir William Ross, had trespassed on lands at Wrawby belonging to Robert Tyrwhitt, digged and taken away turves for firing, felled trees, and cut down brushwood. The dispute was tried by Sir William Gascoigne, but it would appear that this did not altogether meet the requirements of Tyrwhitt. He assembled his men in large numbers and a fight took place with the retainers of Sir William Ross. An action of this kind could not be tolerated even in a lawless age, and the matter was brought before parliament. After long and careful consideration, it was decided that Tyrwhitt was in the wrong, and in the most abject manner he had to beg the pardon of Sir William Ross, but we are told it was merely "lip service."
The hatred of the two families was transmitted from sire to son until the reign of James I., and then it broke out in open warfare. A battle was fought at Melton Ross between the followers of Tyrwhitt and those of the Earl of Rutland, the representative of the Ross family. In the struggle several servants were slain, and the king adopted stringent measures to prevent future bloodshed. He directed, so says tradition, that a gallows be erected at Melton Ross, and kept up for ever, and that if any more deaths should result from the old feud it should be regarded as murder, and those by whom the deadly deed was committed were to be executed on the gallows.
We hear nothing more of the feud after the gallows had been erected, the action of the king being the means of settling a strife which had lasted long and kept the district in turmoil.
The gallows is on the estate of the Earl of Yarborough, and it has been renewed by him, and according to popular belief he is obliged to prevent it falling into decay.
When criminals were carried to Tyburn for execution, it was customary for the mournful procession to stop at the Hospital of St. Giles in the Fields, and there the malefactors were presented with a glass of ale. After the hospital was dissolved the custom was continued at a public-house in the neighbourhood, and seldom did a cart pass on the way to the gallows without the culprits being refreshed with a parting draught. Parton, in his "History of the Parish," published in 1822, makes mention of a public-house bearing the sign of "The Bowl," which stood between the end of St. Giles's High Street, and Hog Lane.
Particulars are given by Pennant and other writers of a similar custom being maintained at York. It gave rise to the saying, that "The saddler of Bawtry was hanged for leaving his liquor": had he stopped, as was usual with other criminals, to drink his bowl of ale, his reprieve, which was actually on its way, would have arrived in time to save his life.
Robert Dowe, a worthy citizen of London, gave to the vicar and churchwardens of St. Sepulchre's Church, London, fifty pounds, on the understanding that through all futurity they should cause to be tolled the big bell the night before the execution of the condemned criminals in the prison of Newgate. After tolling the bell, the sexton came at midnight, and after ringing a hand-bell, repeated the following lines:—
"All you that in the condemned hold do lie, Prepare you, for to-morrow you shall die: Watch all and pray; the hour is drawing near That you before the Almighty must appear; Examine well yourselves: in time repent, That you may not to eternal flames be sent; And when St. Sepulchre's bell to-morrow tolls, The Lord above have mercy on your souls!"
Next morning, when the sad procession passed the church on its way to Tyburn, a brief pause was made at the gate of St. Sepulchre's Church, and the clergyman said prayers for the unfortunate criminals, and at the same time the passing-bell tolled its mournful notes.
According to a notice in a recent book by the Rev. A. G. B. Atkinson, Robert Dowe was a merchant tailor, and a benefactor; he assisted John Stow and others. Dowe was born 1522, and died 1612.
Not a few of the highwaymen who ended their careers at the gallows appear to have been dandies. Swift gives us a picture of one in "Clever Tom Clinch." He says:—
"... While the rabble was bawling, Rode stately through Holborn to die of his calling; He stopped at the George for a bottle of sack, And promised to pay for it—when he came back. His waistcoat and stockings and breeches were white, His cap had a new cherry ribbon to tie't: And the maids at doors and the balconies ran And cried 'Lack-a-day! he's a proper young man!'"
On January 21st, 1670, was hanged Claude Duval, a great favourite with the ladies. It is said that ladies of quality, in masks and with tears, witnessed his execution and that he lay in more than royal state at Tangier Tavern, St. Giles's. His epitaph in the centre aisle of St. Paul's, Covent Garden, may be regarded as a model for highwaymen:—
"Here lies Du Vall: reader, if male thou art, Look to thy purse; if female to thy heart."
Sixteen-string Jack, hanged on November 30th, 1774, was dressed in a "bright pea-green coat, and displayed an immense nosegay."
Frequently rioting occurred at executions, and unpopular criminals would be pelted with missiles, and meet with other indications of disfavour, but usually the sympathies of the populace were with the culprit. Attempts at rescuing criminals would sometimes be made, and soldiers had to be present to ensure order. On the 19th August, 1763, it is stated in "The Annual Register," "A terrible storm made such an impression on the ignorant populace assembled to see a criminal executed on Kennington Common, that the sheriff was obliged to apply to the secretaries of state for a military force to prevent a rescue, and it was near eight o'clock in the evening before he suffered."
Another practice appears to have been to carry the body of an executed criminal to the doors of those who had been the chief cause of the criminal being brought to justice. We read in "The Annual Register," for 1763. "As soon as the execution of several criminals, condemned at last sessions of the Old Bailey, was over at Tyburn, the body of Cornelius Sanders, executed for stealing about fifty pounds out of the house of Mrs. White, in Lamb Street, Spitalfields, was carried and laid before her door, where great numbers of people assembling, they at last grew so outrageous that a guard of soldiers was sent for to stop their proceedings; notwithstanding which, they forced open the door, pitched out all the salmon-tubs, most of the household furniture, piled them on a heap, and set fire to them, and, to prevent the guards from extinguishing the flames, pelted them off with stones, and would not disperse till the whole was consumed." In the same work for the following year another instance is given. "The criminal," says the record, "condemned for returning from transportation at the sessions, and afterwards executed, addressed himself to the populace at Tyburn, and told them he could wish they would carry his body and lay it at the door of Mr. Parker, a butcher in the Minories, who, it seems, was the principal evidence against him; which, being accordingly done, the mob behaved so riotously before the man's house, that it was no easy matter to disperse them."
Curiosities of the Gallows.
Instances are not wanting of criminals being driven in their own carriages to the place of execution. The story of William Andrew Horne, a Derbyshire squire, as given in the "Nottingham Date Book," is one of the most revolting records of villainy that has come under our notice. His long career of crime closed on his seventy-fourth birthday, in 1759, at the gallows, Nottingham. He had committed more than one murder, but was tried for the death of an illegitimate child of which he was the father. His brother laid the information which at last brought him to justice. This brother requested him to give him a small sum of money so that he might leave the country, but he refused to comply. He then said he should make known his crime, but that did not frighten Horne. He replied, "I'll chance it," and this gave rise to a well-known saying in the Midlands, "I'll chance it as Horne did his neck." He was hanged at Gallows-Hill, Nottingham, and was driven in his carriage by his own coachman. We are told as the gloomy procession ascended the Mansfield Road the white locks of the hoary sinner streamed mournfully in the wind, his head being uncovered and the vehicle open, and the day very tempestuous. He met his doom with a considerable degree of fortitude, in the presence of an immense crowd of spectators, including hundreds of his Derbyshire neighbours and tenantry.
A year later Earl Ferrers was hanged for the shooting of his own steward. On May 5th, 1760, he was driven from the Tower to Tyburn in a landau drawn by six horses. His lordship was attired in his wedding clothes, which were of a light colour and richly embroidered in silver. He was hanged with a silken rope, and instead of being swung into eternity from a common cart, a scaffold was erected under the gallows, which we think may be regarded as the precursor of the drop. Mr. T. Broadbent Trowsdale contributed to "Bygone Leicestershire" an informing paper on "Laurence Ferrers: the Murderer-Earl." We reproduce an illustration of the execution from a print of the period.
Some interesting details occur in Notes and Queries for May 28th, 1898, respecting "The Colleen Bawn." It is stated that when John Scanlan had been found guilty of the murder of Ellen Hanley, the gentry of the county of Limerick petitioned for a reprieve, which was refused. They next requested that Scanlan be hanged with a silken cord, though whether for its greater dignity or because it offered a possibility of more rapid strangulation in short drop, we cannot tell. The Lord Lieutenant thought hemp would serve the purpose. According to Haydn's "Dictionary of Dates," Scanlan was executed 14th March, 1820.
Mr. Gordon Fraser, of Wigtown, has collected much interesting local lore respecting the town, which was made a royal burgh in 1341. In bygone times it had the distinction of having its own public executioner. According to traditional accounts he held office on somewhat peculiar conditions. The law was, we are told, that this functionary was himself to be a criminal under sentence of death, but whose doom was to be deferred until the advance of age prevented a continuance of his usefulness, and then he was to be hanged forthwith. If, it was said, the town permitted the executioner to die by the ordinary decay of nature, and not by the process of the cord, it would lose for ever the distinguished honour of possessing a public hangman. The story of the last official who held the tenure of his life upon being able to efficiently despatch his fellows is sufficiently interesting. He was taken ill, and it was seriously contemplated to make sure of having a public hangman in the future by seizing the sick man and hanging him. His friends, hearing of this intention, propped the dying Ketch up in bed, and he, being by trade a shoemaker, had the tools and materials of his trade placed before him. He made a pretence of plying his avocation, and the townsmen, thinking his lease of life was in no danger of a natural termination, allowed him to lie in peace. He then speedily passed away quietly in his bed, and the outwitted burghers found themselves without a hangman, and without hope of a successor.
A good story is told by Mr. Fraser of the last man hanged at Wigtown. His name was Patrick Clanachan, and he was tried and found guilty of horse-stealing. His doom was thus pronounced:—"That he be taken on the 31st August, 1709, between the hours of twelve and two in the afternoon, to the gyppet at Wigtown, and there to hang till he was dead." Clanachan was carried from the prison to the gallows on a hurdle, and, as the people were hurrying on past him to witness his execution, he is said to have remarked, "Tak' yer time, boys, there'll be nae fun till I gang." We have heard a similar anecdote respecting a criminal in London.
At Wicklow, in the year 1738, a man named George Manley was hanged for murder, and just before his execution he delivered an address to the crowd, as follows: "My friends, you assemble to see—what? A man leap into the abyss of death! Look, and you will see me go with as much courage as Curtius, when he leaped into the gulf to save his country from destruction. What will you say of me? You say that no man, without virtue, can be courageous! You see what I am—I'm a little fellow. What is the difference between running into a poor man's debt, and by the power of gold, or any other privilege, prevent him from obtaining his right, and clapping a pistol to a man's breast, and taking from him his purse? Yet the one shall thereby obtain a coach, and honour, and titles; the other, what?—a cart and a rope. Don't imagine from all this that I am hardened. I acknowledge the just judgment of God has overtaken me. My Redeemer knows that murder was far from my heart, and what I did was through rage and passion, being provoked by the deceased. Take warning, my comrades; think what would I now give that I had lived another life. Courageous? You'll say I've killed a man. Marlborough killed his thousands, and Alexander his millions. Marlborough and Alexander, and many others, who have done the like, are famous in history for great men. Aye—that's the case—one solitary man. I'm a little murderer and must be hanged. Marlborough and Alexander plundered countries; they were great men. I ran in debt with the ale-wife. I must be hanged. How many men were lost in Italy, and upon the Rhine, during the last war for settling a king in Poland. Both sides could not be in the right! They are great men; but I killed a solitary man."
It will be seen from the following account, that in the olden time the cost and trouble attending an execution was a serious matter:—
To the Right Honourable the Lord Commissioners of His Majesty's Treasury.
The humble petition of Ralph Griffin, Esq., High Sheriff of the County of Flint, for the present year, 1769, concerning the execution of Edward Edwards, for burglary:—
That your petitioner was at great difficulty and expense by himself, his clerks, and other messengers and agents he employed in journeys to Liverpool and Shrewsbury, to hire an executioner; the convict being of Wales it was almost impossible to procure any of that country to undertake the execution.
L s. d. Travelling and other expenses on that occasion 15 10 0
A man at Salop engaged to do this business. Gave him in part 5 5 0
Two men for conducting him, and for their search of him on his deserting from them on the road, and charges on inquiring for another executioner 4 10 0
After much trouble and expense, John Babington, a convict in the same prison with Edwards, was by means of his wife prevailed on to execute his fellow-prisoner. Gave to the wife 6 6 0
And to Babington 6 6 0
Paid for erecting a gallows, materials, and labour: a business very difficult to be done in this country 4 12 0
For the hire of a cart to convey the body, a coffin, and for the burial 2 10 0
And for other expenses, trouble, and petty expenses, on the occasion at least 5 0 0 ————— Total L49 19 0 ==========
Which humbly hope your lordships will please to allow your petitioner, who, etc.
Feasting at funerals in past time was by no means uncommon in Great Britain, and perhaps still lingers in some of the remoter parts of the country. In Scotland until the commencement of the present century before or after executions, civic feasts were often held. After every execution, at Paisley, says the Rev. Charles Rogers, LL.D., the authorities had a municipal dinner. Thomas Potts was hanged at Paisley, 1797, at a cost to the town of L33 5s. 3-1/2d., of which the sum of L13 8s. 10d. was expended on a civic feast, and L1 14s. 3d. on the entertainment of the executioner and his assistants. At Edinburgh, the evening prior to an execution, the magistrates met at Paxton's Tavern, in the Exchange, and made their arrangements over liquor. These gatherings were known as "splicing the rope."
During the distress which, owing to the scanty harvests of the later years of the last century, prevailed throughout the country, but more especially in the north, attention was drawn to an extremely curious privilege claimed by the public executioner of Dumfries. From old times a considerable portion of the remuneration for his hanging services was in kind, and levied in the following manner. When the farmers and others had set out in the public market their produce of meal, potatoes, and similar provender, the hangman, walking along the row of sacks, thrust into each a large iron ladle, and put the result of each "dip" into his own sack. This tax, from the odious occupation of the collector, was regarded by the farmers and factors with particular abhorrence, and numerous attempts were made at different periods to put a stop to the grievous exaction, but the progress of public opinion was so little advanced, and the regard for the ancient trammels of feudal arbitrariness so deep-seated, that not until 1781 was any serious resistance made. In that year a person named Johnston stood upon what he considered his rights, and would allow no acquaintance to be made between his meal and the iron ladle of the Dumfries hangman. The latter, seeing in this the subversion of every fundamental principle of social order, to say nothing of the loss threatened to his means of subsistence, carried his complaint to the magistrates. Consequently the Dumfries Hampden was forthwith haled to prison. He was not, however, long detained there, as his judges were made aware by his threats of action for false imprisonment that they were unaware of the position in which they and the impost stood in the eyes of the law. To remedy this ignorance, and be fore-armed for other cases of resistance, which it was not unlikely to suppose would follow, the Corporation of Dumfries, in the year we have mentioned, had recourse to legal advice. That they obtained was of the highest standing, as they applied to no less a personage than Andrew Crosbie, the eminent advocate, who has been immortalised in the Pleydell of "Guy Mannering." It will be interesting to quote from the document laid before him on this occasion, containing as it does several particulars about the hangman of the town. One part describes the office, duties, and pay of the hangman, "who executes not only the sentences pronounced by the magistrates of the burgh, and of the King's judges on their circuits, but also the sentences of the sheriff, and of the justices of the peace at their quarter sessions. The town has been in use to pay his house rent, and a salary over and above. Roger Wilson, the present executioner, has, since he was admitted, received from the town L6 of salary, and L1 13s. 4d. for a house rent. Over and above this salary and rent, he and his predecessors have been in use of levying and receiving weekly (to wit each market day, being Wednesday,) the full of an iron ladle out of each sack of meal, pease, beans, and potatoes, and the same as to flounders." The history of the impost is next very briefly dealt with, the gist of the information on the subject being that the tax had been levied from a period beyond the memory of the "oldest people" without quarrel or dispute. That the resistance of Johnston was not an isolated instance we likewise learn from this statement of the case, for it says "there appears a fixed resolution and conspiracy to resist and forcibly obstruct the levy of this usual custom," and as the result of the tax according to the executioner's own version amounted to more than L13 annually, it was of sufficient moment to make sound advice desirable. The opinion of Crosbie was that rights obtained by virtue of office, and exercised from time out of mind, were legal, and might very justly be enforced. While commending the imprisonment of the dealer Johnston, he suggested that the process of collection should be made more formal than appears to have been the case in this instance. Officers should assist Jack Ketch in his role of tax-gatherer, and all preventers should be formally tried by the magistrates. The tax continued to be levied. The farmers either gave up their meal grudgingly, or, refusing, were sent to gaol. In 1796, when the towns-people were in the utmost need of food, riots and tumults arose in Dumfries, and as one means of allaying the popular frenzy it was proposed by the leading member of the Corporation, Provost Haig, that the ladle's harvest should be abolished, and his recommendation was immediately put into effect. The hangman of Dumfries was then one Joseph Tate, who was the last of the officers of the noose connected officially with Dumfries; for the loss of his perquisite he was allowed the sum of L2 yearly. It is satisfactory to learn that the ladle itself, the only substantial relic of this curious custom, is, in all probability preserved at the present time. A footnote in W. McDowall's valuable "History of Dumfries," says: "The Dumfries hangman's ladle is still to be seen we believe among other 'auld nick-nackets' at Abbotsford." It was for many years lost sight of, till in 1818, Mr. Joseph Train, the zealous antiquary, hunted it out, and, all rusty as it was, sent it as a present to Sir Walter Scott.
Horrors of the Gallows.
From the following paragraph, drawn from the Derby Mercury of April 6th, 1738, we have a striking example of how deplorable was the conduct of the hangman in the olden time. It is by no means a solitary instance of it being mainly caused through drinking too freely:—
"Hereford, March 25. This day Will Summers and Tipping were executed here for house-breaking. At the tree, the hangman was intoxicated with liquor, and supposing that there were three for execution, was going to put one of the ropes round the parson's neck, as he stood in the cart, and was with much difficulty prevented by the gaoler from so doing."
In bygone times, capital punishment formed an important feature in the every-day life, and was resorted to much more than it now is, for in those "good old times" little regard was paid for human life. People were executed for slight offences. The painful story related by Charles Dickens, in the preface to "Barnaby Rudge," is an example of many which might be mentioned. It appears that the husband of a young woman had been taken from her by the press-gang, and that she, in a time of sore distress, with a babe at her breast, was caught stealing a shilling's worth of lace from a shop in Ludgate Hill, London. The poor woman was tried, found guilty of the offence, and suffered death on the gallows.
We have copied from a memorial in the ancient burial ground of St. Mary's Church, Bury St. Edmunds, the following inscription which tells a sad story of the low value placed on human life at the close of the eighteenth century:—
READER, Pause at this humble stone it records The fall of unguarded youth by the allurements of vice and the treacherous snares of seduction. SARAH LLOYD. On the 23rd April, 1800, in the 22nd year of her age, Suffered a just and ignominious death. For admitting her abandoned seducer in the dwelling-house of her mistress, on the 3rd of October, 1799, and becoming the instrument in his hands of the crime of robbery and housebreaking. These were her last words: "May my example be a warning to thousands."
Hanging persons was almost a daily occurrence in the earlier years of the present century, for forging notes, passing forged notes, and other crimes which we now almost regard with indifference. George Cruikshank claimed with the aid of his artistic skill to have been the means of putting an end to hanging for minor offences. Cruikshank, in a letter to his friend, Mr. Whitaker, furnishes full details bearing on the subject. "About the year 1817 or 1818," wrote Cruikshank, "there were one-pound Bank of England notes in circulation, and unfortunately there were forged one-pound bank notes in circulation also; and the punishment for passing these forged notes was in some cases transportation for life, and in others DEATH.
"At that time, I resided in Dorset Street, Salisbury Square, Fleet Street, and had occasion to go early one morning to a house near the Bank of England; and in returning home between eight or nine o'clock, down Ludgate Hill, and seeing a number of persons looking up the Old Bailey, I looked that way myself, and saw several human beings hanging on the gibbet, opposite Newgate prison, and, to my horror, two of them were women; and upon enquiring what the women had been hung for, was informed that it was for passing forged one-pound notes. The fact that a poor woman could be put to death for such a minor offence had a great effect upon me, and I at once determined, if possible, to put a stop to this shocking destruction of life for merely obtaining a few shillings by fraud; and well knowing the habits of the low class of society in London, I felt quite sure that in very many cases the rascals who had forged the notes induced these poor ignorant women to go into the gin-shops to get 'something to drink,' and thus pass the notes, and hand them the change.
"My residence was a short distance from Ludgate Hill (Dorset Street); and after witnessing the tragic-scene, I went home, and in ten minutes designed and made a sketch of this 'Bank-note not to be imitated.' About half-an-hour after this was done, William Hone came into my room, and saw the sketch lying on my table; he was much struck with it, and said, 'What are you going to do with this, George?'
"'To publish it,' I replied. Then he said, 'Will you let me have it?' To his request I consented, made an etching of it, and it was published. Mr. Hone then resided on Ludgate Hill, not many yards from the spot where I had seen the people hanging on the gibbet; and when it appeared in his shop windows, it caused a great sensation, and the people gathered round his house in such numbers that the Lord Mayor had to send the City police (of that day) to disperse the CROWD. The Bank directors held a meeting immediately upon the subject, and AFTER THAT they issued no more one-pound notes, and so there was no more hanging for passing FORGED one-pound notes; not only that, but ultimately no hanging even for forgery. AFTER THIS Sir Robert Peel got a bill passed in Parliament for the 'Resumption of cash payments.' AFTER THIS he revised the Penal Code, and AFTER THAT there was not any more hanging or punishment of DEATH for minor offences." We are enabled, by the courtesy of Mr. Walter Hamilton, the author of a favourably-known life of Cruikshank, to reproduce a picture of the "Bank-note not to be imitated." In concluding his letter to Mr. Whitaker, Cruikshank said: "I consider it the most important design and etching that I have ever made in my life; for it has saved the life of thousands of my fellow-creatures; and for having been able to do this Christian act, I am, indeed, most sincerely thankful."
At Nottingham in the olden time the culprits were usually taken to St. Mary's Church, where the officiating clergyman preached their funeral sermon. Next they would inspect their graves, and sometimes even test their capabilities by seeing if they were large enough to hold their remains. Frequently they would put on their shrouds, and in various ways try to show that they were indifferent to their impending fate. Then they would be conveyed on a cart also containing their coffin to the place of execution some distance from the prison. Similar usages prevailed in other places.
* * * * *
THE BANK RESTRICTION BAROMETER; OR, SCALE OF EFFECTS ON SOCIETY OF THE Bank Note System, and Payments in Gold.
BY ABRAHAM FRANKLIN.
[***] To be read from the words "BANK RESTRICTION," in the middle, upwards or downwards.
NATIONAL PROSPERITY PROMOTED.
10. The Number of useless Public Executions diminished.
9. The Amelioration of the Criminal Code facilitated.
8. The Forgery of Bank Notes at an end.
7. Manufacturers and Journeymen obtain Necessaries and Comforts for their Wages.
6. The Means of Persons with small Incomes enlarged.
5. A Fall of Rents and Prices.
4. The Circulating Medium diminished.
3. Fictitious Capital and False Credit destroyed.
2. Exchanges equalized, and the Gold Coin preserved, if allowed to be freely exported.
1. The Gold Currency restored.
Consequences, if taken off, will be as above:—viz.
THE BANK RESTRICTION.
Consequences of its Operation are as follows:—viz.
1. Disappearance of the legal Gold Coin.
2. The Issues of Bank of England Notes and Country Bank Notes extended.
3. Paper Accommodation, creating False Credit, Fictitious Capital, Mischievous Speculation.
4. The Circulating Medium enormously enlarged.
5. Rents and Prices of Articles of the first Necessity doubled and trebled.
6. The Income and Wages of small Annuitants, and Artizans and Labourers, insufficient to purchase Necessaries for their Support.
7. Industry reduced to Indigence, broken-spirited, and in the Workhouse: or, endeavouring to preserve independence, lingering in despair, committing suicide, or dying broken-hearted.
8. The Temptation to forge Bank of England Notes increased and facilitated.
9. New and sanguinary Laws against Forgery ineffectually enacted.
10. Frequent and useless inflictions of the barbarous Punishment of Death.
GENERAL DISTRESS INCREASED.
* * * * *
Public executions always brought together a large gathering of men and women, not always of the lowest order, indeed many wealthy people attended. "The last person publicly executed at Northampton," says Mr. Christopher A. Markham, F.S.A., "was Elizabeth Pinckhard, who was found guilty of murdering her mother-in-law, and who was sentenced to death by Sir John Jervis, on the 27th February, 1852. As a rule all executions had taken place on a Monday, so a rumour was spread that the execution would take place on Monday, the 15th of March; accordingly the people came together in their thousands. They were, however, all disappointed; some of them said they wished they had the under-sheriff and they would let him know what it was to keep honest people in suspense; and one old lady said seriously that she should claim her expenses from the sheriff. However, on Tuesday, the 16th March, Mrs. Pinckhard was executed before an immense number of persons, estimated at ten thousand, the day fixed having by some means or other got known." The conduct of the crowds which gathered before Newgate and other prisons was long a blot on the boasted civilisation of this country, and there can be little doubt that public executions had a baneful influence on the public.
It will not be without historical interest to state that the last execution for attempted murder was Martin Doyle, hanged at Chester, August 27th, 1861. By the Criminal Law Consolidation Act, passed 1861, death was confined to treason and wilful murder. The Act was passed before Doyle was put on trial, but (unfortunately for him) did not take effect until November 1st, 1861. Michael Barrett, author of the Fenian explosion at Clerkenwell, hanged at Newgate, May 26th, 1868, was the last person publicly executed in England. Thomas Wells (murderer of Mr. Walsh, station-master at Dover), hanged at Maidstone, August 13th, 1868, was the first person to be executed within a prison.
 "St. Botolph, Aldgate: the Story of a City Parish," 1898.
 "The Nottingham Date Book," 1880.
 Andrews's "Bygone Leicestershire," 1892.
 Rogers's "Social Life in Scotland," 1884.
 McDowall's "History of Dumfries."
 Stevenson's "Bygone Nottinghamshire," 1893.
 Markham's "History of Ancient Punishments in Northamptonshire," 1886.
Hanging in Chains.
The time is not so far distant when the gibbet and gallows were common objects in this country. In old road books, prepared for the guidance of travellers, they are frequently referred to as road marks. Several editions of Ogilby's "Itinirarium Angliae" were published between 1673 and 1717, and a few passages drawn from this work relating to various parts of England show how frequently these gruesome instruments of death occur:—
"By the Gallows and Three Windmills enter the suburbs of York."
"Leaving the forementioned suburbs [Durham], a small ascent passing between the gallows and Crokehill."
"You pass through Hare Street, etc., and at 13'4 part of Epping Forest, with a gallows to the left."
"You pass Pen-meris Hall, and at 250'4 Hilldraught Mill, both on the left, and ascend a small hill with a gibbet on the right."
"At the end of the city [Wells] you cross a brook, and pass by the gallows."
"You leave Frampton, Wilberton, and Sherbeck, all on the right, and by a gibbet on the left, over a stone bridge."
"Leaving Nottingham you ascend a hill, and pass by a gallows."
Pictures found a prominent place in Ogilby's pages, and we reproduce one of Nottingham.
It will be noticed that the gallows is shown a short distance from the town.
It is twenty-six miles from London to East Grinstead, and in that short distance were three of these hideous instruments of death on the highway, in addition to gibbets erected in lonely bylanes and secluded spots where crimes had been committed. "Hangman's Lanes" were by no means uncommon. He was a brave man who ventured alone at night on the highways and byways when the country was beset with highwaymen, and the gruesome gibbets were frequently in sight.
Hanging was the usual mode of capital punishment with the Anglo-Saxons. We give a representation of a gallows (gala) of this period taken from the illuminations to Alfric's version of Genesis. It is highly probable that in some instances the bodies would remain in terrorem upon the gibbet. Robert of Gloucester, circa 1280, referring to his own times, writes:—
"In gibet hii were an honge."
"The habit of gibbeting or hanging in chains the body of the executed criminal near the site of the crime," says Dr. Cox, "with the intention of thereby deterring others from capital offences, was a coarse custom very generally prevalent in mediaeval England. Some early assize rolls of the fourteenth century pertaining to Derbyshire that we have consulted give abundant proof of its being a usual habit in the county at that period. In 1341 the bodies of three men were hung in chains just outside Chapel-en-le-Frith, who had been executed for robbery with violence. In the same year a woman and two men were gibbeted on Ashover Moor for murdering one of the King's purveyors."
An early record of hanging in chains is given in Chauncy's "History of Hertfordshire." It states, "Soon after the King came to Easthampstead, to recreate himself with hunting, where he heard that the bodies hanged here were taken down from the gallowes, and removed a great way from the same; this so incensed the King that he sent a writ, tested the 3rd day of August, Anno 1381, to the bailiffs of this borough, commanding them upon sight thereof, to cause chains to be made, and to hang the bodies in them upon the same gallowes, there to remain so long as one piece might stick to another, according to the judgment; but the townsmen, not daring to disobey the King's command, hanged the dead bodies of their neighbours again to their great shame and reproach, when they could not get any other for any wages to come near the stinking carcases, but they themselves were compelled to do so vile an office." Gower, a contemporary poet, writes as follows:—
"And so after by the Lawe He was unto the gibbet drawe, Where he above all other hongeth, As to a traitor it belongeth."
Sir Robert Constable was gibbeted above the Beverley-gate, Hull, in 1537, for high treason. "On Fridaye," wrote the Duke of Norfolk, "beying market daye at Hull, suffered and dothe hange above the highest gate of the toune so trymmed in cheynes that I thinke his boones woll hang there this hundrethe yere."
According to Lord Dreghorn, writing in 1774:—"The first instance of hanging in chains is in March, 1637, in the case of Macgregor, for theft, robbery, and slaughter; he was sentenced to be hanged in a chenzie on the gallow-tree till his corpse rot."
Philip Stanfield, in 1688, was hung in chains between Leith and Edinburgh for the murder of his father, Sir James Stanfield. In books relating to Scotland, Stanfield's sad story has often been told, and it is detailed at some length in Chambers's "Domestic Annals of Scotland."
Hanging in chains was by no means rare from an early period in the annals of England, but according to Blackstone this was no part of the legal judgment. It was not until 1752, by an Act of 25 George II., that gibbeting was legally recognised. After execution by this statute, bodies were to be given to the surgeons to be dissected and anatomized, and not to be buried without this being done. The judge might direct the body to be hung in chains by giving a special order to the sheriff. This Act made matters clear, and was the means of gibbeting rapidly increasing in this country.
A gravestone in the churchyard of Merrington, in the county of Durham, states:—
Here lies the bodies of John, Jane, and Elizabeth, children of John and Margaret Brass, Who were murdered the 28th day of January, 1683, By Andrew Mills, their father's servant, For which he was executed and hung in chains. Reader, remember, sleeping We were slain: And here we sleep till we must Rise again. "Whoso sheddeth man's blood by man shall his blood be shed." "Thou shalt do no murder." Restored by subscription in 1789.
The parents of the murdered children were away from home when the awful crime was committed by their farm servant, a young man aged about nineteen, inoffensive, but of somewhat deficient intellect. It is quite clear from the facts which have come down to us that he was insane, for in his confession he stated the devil suggested the deed to his mind, saying, "Kill all, kill all, kill all." The eldest of the family, a daughter, struggled with him for some time, and he was not able to murder her until after her arm was broken. She had placed it as a bolt to a door to secure the safety of the younger members of the family who were sleeping in an inner room. The full particulars of the horrible crime may be found in the pages of Dodd's "History of Spennymoor," published in 1897, and are too painful to give in detail. Some troopers marching from Darlington to Durham seized the culprit, and conveyed him with them. He was tried at Durham, and condemned to be gibbeted near the scene of the murders. Many stories which are related in the district are, we doubt not without foundation in fact. It is asserted that the wretch was gibbeted alive, that he lived for several days, and that his sweetheart kept him alive with milk. Another tale is to the effect that a loaf of bread was placed just within his reach, but fixed on an iron spike that would enter his throat if he attempted to relieve the pangs of hunger with it.
His cries of pain were terrible, and might be heard for miles. The country folk left their homes until after his death. "It is to be hoped," says Mr. Dodd, the local historian, "that the statement about the man being gibbeted alive is a fiction." Some years ago, a local playwright dramatised the story for the Spennymoor theatre, where it drew large audiences.
Long after the body had been removed, a portion of the gibbet remained, and was known as "Andrew Mills's Stob," but it was taken away bit by bit as it was regarded a charm for curing toothache.
Robert and William Bolas were gibbeted on Uckington Heath, near Shrewsbury, in 1723. They had murdered Walter Matthews and William Whitcomb, who had resisted their entering a barn to steal wheat. A popular saying in Shropshire is "Cold and chilly like old Bolas." Its origin is referred back to the time the body of Robert Bolas was hanging in chains. At a public-house not far distant from the place one dark night a bet was made that one of the party assembled dare not proceed alone to the gibbet and ask after the state of Bolas's health. The wager was accepted, and we are told the man undertaking it at once made his way to the spot. Immediately upon this, another of the company, by a short cut, proceeded to the gibbet, and placed himself behind it, and a third, carrying a number of chains, concealed himself in a hedge adjoining the road. Upon arriving at the gibbet, the person undertaking to make the enquiry, screwed up his courage, and timidly said in a low voice, "Well, Bolas, how are you?" Immediately, in a shaky voice, as from a tomb, came the response from the person behind the gibbet, "Cold and chilly, thank you." This unlooked-for reply completely upset the valour of the enquirer, and turning tail he fled for the inn with all possible speed. Upon passing the place where the person with the chains was lying, he was followed with a loud rattling and reached his comrades in a most exhausted and frightened condition. Tradition has it that the event terminated in the bold adventurer becoming, and continuing ever afterwards, a lunatic.
When Robert Bolas was awaiting his trial he believed that it would result in an acquittal, and that he would thus be permitted to go home for the corn harvest and get his barley. He was a man of immense strength, and a great source of amusement to his fellow prisoners awaiting trial, before whom, although loaded with heavy chains, he would sing and dance with the most perfect ease. It was upon one of these occasions, when he was in a particularly happy and hopeful mood, that he is reported to have made use of the saying, which is known even to the present day, "I would that these troublesome times were over as I want to go home and get my barley."
A curious story is told to the effect that the corpse of Bolas was taken down from the gibbet by some of his companions and thrown into the river Tern, but that it would not sink. Weights were then tied to it, but still it floated upon the top of the water, and subsequently was again placed upon the gibbet. The part of the river into which it was thrown is still called "Bolas's hole."
In the Town Hall, Rye, Sussex, is preserved the ironwork used in 1742 for gibbeting John Breeds, a butcher, who murdered Allen Grebble, the Mayor of Rye. It appears that Breeds had a dispute about some property with Thomas Lamb, and learning that he was about to see a friend off by a ship sailing to France on the night of March 17th planned his murder. Mr. Lamb, for reasons not stated, changed his mind, and induced his neighbour Mr. Grebble to take his place. On returning home and passing the churchyard, Breeds rushed upon him and mortally wounded him with a knife. The unfortunate man was able to walk home, but shortly expired while seated in his chair. His servant was suspected of murdering him, but Breeds's strange conduct soon brought the crime home to him. He was tried, found guilty, and condemned to death, and to be hung in chains. The gibbet was set up on a marsh situated at the west end of the town, now known as "Gibbet Marsh." Here it stood for many years; but when all the mortal remains had dropped away from the ironwork with the exception of the upper part of the skull, the Corporation took possession of it, and it is now in their custody.
Mr. Lewis Evans, has given, in his article on "Witchcraft in Hertfordshire," an account of the murder of John and Ruth Osborn, suspected of witchcraft. Notice had been given at various market towns in the neighbourhood of Tring that on a certain day the man and his wife would be ducked at Long Marston, in Tring Parish. On the appointed day, April 22nd, 1757, says Mr. Evans, Ruth Osborn, and her husband John, sought sanctuary in the church, but the "bigotted and superstitious rioters," who had assembled in crowds from the whole district round, not finding their victims, smashed the workhouse windows and half destroyed it, caught its governor, and threatened to burn both him and the town, and searched the whole premises, even to the "salt box," for the reputed witches in vain. However, they were found at last, dragged from the vestry, and their thumbs and toes having been tied together, they were wrapped in sheets, and dragged by ropes through a pond; the woman was tried first, and as she did not sink, Thomas Colley, a chimney sweep, turned her over and over with a stick. John Osborn, the husband, was then tested in the same way, and the trial was made three times on each of them, with such success, that the woman died on the spot, and the man a few days later. When the experiment was over, Colley went round and collected money from the crowd for his trouble in shewing them such sport.
The coroner's verdict, however, declared that the Osborns had been murdered, and Colley was tried at Hertford Assizes, before Sir William Lee, and having been found guilty of murder, was sent back to the scene of the crime under a large escort of one hundred and eight men, seven officers, and two trumpeters, and was hung on August 24th, 1751, at Gubblecote Cross, where his body swung in chains for many years.
A Salford woolcomber named John Grinrod (or Grinret), poisoned his wife and two children in September, 1758, and in the following March was hanged and gibbeted for committing the crime. The gibbet stood on Pendleton Moor. It was a popular belief in the neighbourhood:—
"That the wretch in his chains, each night took the pains, To come down from the gibbet—and walk."
As can be easily surmised, such a story frightened many of the simple country folk. It was told to a traveller staying at an hostelry situated not far distant from where the murderer's remains hung in chains. He laughed to scorn the strange stories which alarmed the countryside, and laid a wager with the publican that he would visit at midnight the gibbet. The traveller said:—
"To the gibbet I'll go, and this I will do, As sure as I stand in my shoes; Some address I'll devise, and if Grinny replies, My wager of course, I shall lose."
We are next told how, in the dark and dismal night, the traveller proceeded without dismay to the gibbet, and stood under it. Says Ainsworth, the Lancashire novelist and poet, from whom we are quoting:—
"Though dark as could be, yet he thought he could see The skeleton hanging on high; The gibbet it creaked; and the rusty chains squeaked; And a screech-owl flew solemnly by.
"The heavy rain pattered, the hollow bones clattered, The traveller's teeth chattered—with cold—not with fright; The wind it blew hastily, piercingly, gustily; Certainly not an agreeable night!
"'Ho! Grindrod, old fellow,' thus loudly did bellow, The traveller mellow—'How are ye, my blade?'— 'I'm cold and I'm dreary; I'm wet and I'm weary; But soon I'll be near ye!' the skeleton said.
"The grisly bones rattled, and with the chains battled, The gibbet appallingly shook; On the ground something stirr'd, but no more the man heard, To his heels, on the instant, he took.
"Over moorland he dashed, and through quagmire he plashed, His pace never daring to slack; Till the hostel he neared, for greatly he feared Old Grindrod would leap on his back.
"His wager he lost, and a trifle it cost; But that which annoyed him the most, Was to find out too late, that certain as fate The landlord had acted the Ghost."
The tragic story of Eugene Aram has received attention at the hands of the historian, poet, and novelist, and his name is the most notable in the annals of crime in the North of England. In the winter of 1744-5 a shoemaker, named Daniel Clarke, who had recently married, and was possessed of money and other valuables, as it subsequently transpired not obtained in an honourable manner, was suddenly missing, and two of his associates, Richard Houseman and Eugene Aram, were suspected of knowing about his disappearance, and even at their hands foul play was suspected, but it could not be brought home to them. Aram left the town, and in various places followed his calling—that of a school teacher. The mystery of Daniel Clarke remained for some years unsolved, but in 1758 a labourer found at Knaresborough some human bones, and it was suspected that they were Clarke's, and were shown to Houseman, who was supposed to have a knowledge of the missing man, and in an unguarded moment said that they were not those of Clarke. His manner aroused suspicion, and on being pressed he confessed that Clarke was murdered and buried in St. Robert's Cave, and that Aram and himself were responsible for his death. The cave was explored, and the skeleton of the murdered man was found. Aram was arrested at Lynn, where he was an usher in a school, and was esteemed alike by pupils and parents. He stoutly protested his innocence, and undertook his own defence. He read it in court, and it was regarded as a masterpiece of reasoning. It was, however, made clear from the statements of Houseman, who was admitted as king's evidence, that Aram had murdered Clarke for gain when he was in indigent circumstances. The jury returned a verdict of guilty against Aram, and he was condemned to death, and his body to be afterwards hung in chains.
It appears quite clear from a careful consideration of the case that Aram was guilty of the crime.
He attempted, after his trial, to commit suicide by cutting his arm with a razor in two places, but when discovered, with proper remedies, his failing strength was restored. On the table was found a document giving his reasons for attempting to end his own life. On the morning of his execution he stated that he awoke about three o'clock, and then wrote the following lines:—
"Come, pleasing rest, eternal slumber fall, Seal mine, that once must seal the eyes of all; Calm and composed, my soul her journey takes, No guilt that troubles, and no heart that aches; Adieu! thou sun, all bright like her arise; Adieu! fair friends, and all that's good and wise."
On August 6th, 1759, he was hanged at York, and afterwards his body was conveyed to Knaresborough Forest, where it was gibbeted.
Hornsea people are sometimes called "Hornsea Pennels," after a notorious pirate and smuggler, named Pennel, who murdered his captain and sunk his ship near to the place. He was tried and executed in London for the crimes, and his body, bound round with iron hoops, was sent to Hornsea, in a case marked "glass." The corpse, in 1770, was hung in chains on the north cliff. Long ago the cliff with its gibbet has been washed away by the sea.
On the night of June 8th, 1773, a man named Corbet, a rat-catcher and chimney-sweep, living at Tring, entered down the chimney the house of Richard Holt, of Bierton, Buckinghamshire, and murdered him in his bed-chamber. For this crime Corbet was hanged and gibbeted in a field not far distant from the house where the murder was committed. The gibbet served as a gallows. A correspondent of the Bucks Herald says in 1795 he visited Bierton Feast, and at that period the gibbet was standing, with the skull of the murderer attached to the irons. Some years later the irons were worn away by the action of the swivel from which they were suspended, fell, and were thrown into the ditch, and lost sight of. Francis Neale, of Aylesbury, blacksmith, made the gibbet, or as he calls it in his account the gib, and his bill included entries as follow:—
L s. d. "July 23, A.D. 1773. To 6lb. Spikes 0 2 3 " " Iron for Gib-post 0 16 4 " " Nails for the Gib 0 4 0 " " 3 hund'd tenter Hooks 0 3 0 " " The Gib 5 0 0"
These figures were copied from the original accounts by the late Robert Gibbs, the painstaking local chronicler of Aylesbury. This is understood to have been the last gibbet erected in Buckinghamshire.
Terror and indignation were felt by the inhabitants of the quiet midland town of Derby on Christmas day, in the year 1775, as the news spread through the place that on the previous evening an aged lady had been murdered and her house plundered. An Irishman named Matthew Cocklain disappeared from the town, and he was suspected of committing the foul deed. He was tracked to his native country, arrested, and brought back to Derby. At the following March Assizes, he was tried and found guilty of the crime, sentenced to be hanged, and afterwards gibbeted. His body was for some time suspended in the summer sun and winter cold, an object of fright to the people in the district.
Christmas eve had come round once more, and at a tavern, near the gibbet, a few friends were enjoying a pipe and glass around the cheerful burning yule-log, when the conversation turned to the murderer, and a wager was made that a certain member of the company dare not venture near the grim gibbet at that late hour of night. A man agreed to go, and take with him a basin of broth and offer it to Matthew Cocklain. He proceeded without delay, carrying on his shoulder a ladder, and in his hand a bowl of hot broth. On arriving at the foot of the gibbet, he mounted the ladder, and put to Cocklain's mouth the basin, saying, "Sup, Matthew," but to his great astonishment, a hollow voice replied, "It's hot." He was taken by surprise; but, equal to the occasion, and at once said, "Blow it, blow it," subsequently throwing the liquid into the face of the suspended body.
He returned to the cosy room of the hostelry to receive the bet he had won. His mate, who had been hid behind the gibbet-post, and had tried to frighten him with his sepulchral speech, admitted that the winner was a man of nerve, and richly entitled to the wager.
It has been asserted by more than one local chronicler that John Whitfield, of Coathill, a notorious north country highwayman, about 1777, was gibbeted alive on Barrock, a hill a few miles from Wetherell, near Carlisle. He kept the countryside in a state of terror, and few would venture out after nightfall for fear of encountering him. He shot a man on horseback in open daylight; a boy saw him commit the crime, and was the means of his identification and conviction. It is the belief in the district that Whitfield was gibbeted alive, and that he hung for several days in agony, and that his cries were heartrending, until a mail-coachman passing that way put him out of his misery by shooting him.
On the night of July 3rd, 1779, John Spencer murdered William Yeadon, keeper of the Scrooby toll-bar, and his mother, Mary Yeadon. The brutal crime was committed with a heavy hedge-stake. The culprit was soon caught, and tried at Nottingham. It transpired that the prisoner was pressed for money, and that the murders were committed to obtain it. He was found guilty, and condemned to be executed at Nottingham, and then his body was to be hung in chains near Scrooby toll-bar. In his hand was placed the hedge-stake with which he had committed the murders. After the body had been suspended a few weeks the body was shot through by the sergeant of a band of soldiers passing that way with a deserter. For the offence he was followed and reported, tried by court-martial, and reduced to the ranks. This disturbance of the body caused its rapid decomposition, and the odour blown over the neighbouring village was most offensive.
Several instances of persons being gibbeted for robbing the mails have come under our notice. In the columns of the Salisbury Journal for August 18th, 1783, it is stated:—"The sentence of William Peare for robbing the mail near Chippenham stands unreversed.... He will be executed at Fisherton gallows, on Tuesday morning, about 11 o'clock, and his body will then be inclosed in a suit of chains, ingeniously made by Mr. Wansborough and conveyed to Chippenham, and affixed to a gibbet erected near the spot where the robbery was committed." The allusion to "unreversed" has reference to the common practice of condemning people to death, and shortly afterwards granting a pardon. The issue of the paper for the following week records that: "On Tuesday morning Peare was executed at Fisherton gallows.... The remaining part of the sentence was completed on Wednesday, by hanging the body in Green Lane, near Chippenham, where it now is; a dreadful memento to youth, how they swerve from the paths of rectitude, and transgress the laws of their country." The body of Peare was not permitted to remain long on the gibbet. We see it is stated in a paragraph in the same newspaper under date of November 10th, 1783, that on the 30th of October at night, the corpse was taken away, and it was supposed that this was done by some of his Cricklade friends.
Near the Devil's Punch Bowl, at Hind Head, an upright stone records the murder of a sailor, and the inscription it bears is as under:—
ERECTED IN DETESTATION OF A BARBAROUS MURDER committed here on an unknown sailor, On September 24th, 1786, BY EDWD. LONEGON, MICHL. CASEY, AND JAS. MARSHALL, WHO WERE TAKEN THE SAME DAY, AND HUNG IN CHAINS NEAR THIS PLACE.
"Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed." —Gen. chap. 9, ver. 6.
And on the back:—
THIS STONE WAS ERECTED BY ORDER AND AT THE COST OF JAMES STILWELL, ESQ., OF COSFORD, 1786. CURSED BE THE MAN WHO INJURETH OR REMOVETH THIS STONE.
The stone was removed from its original position on the old Portsmouth road, which ran at a higher level, and placed where it now stands some years since.
The three men who committed the crime were arrested at Rake, near Petersfield, and in their possession was found the clothing of the unfortunate sailor. They were tried at Kingston, and found guilty of murder, and condemned to be hanged and gibbeted near where they had committed the foul deed. On April 7th, 1787, the sentence was carried into effect. The gibbet remained for three years, and was then blown down in a gale. The hill is still known as Gibbet Hill.
The murdered man was buried in Thursley churchyard, and over his remains was erected a gravestone, bearing a carving representing three men killing the sailor, and an inscription as follows:—
In Memory of A generous, but unfortunate Sailor, Who was barbarously murder'd on Hindhead, On September 24th, 1786, By three Villains, After he had liberally treated them, And promised them his further Assistance, On the Road to Portsmouth.
When pitying Eyes to see my Grave shall come, And with a generous Tear bedew my tomb; Here shall they read my melancholy fate— With Murder and Barbarity complete. In perfect Health, and in the Flower of Age, I fell a Victim to three Ruffians' Rage; On bended Knees, I mercy strove t'obtain Their Thirst of Blood made all Entreaties Vain, No dear Relations, or still dearer Friend, Weeps my hard lot or miserable End. Yet o'er my sad remains (my name unknown) A generous public have inscribed this Stone.
On February 2nd, 1787, two dissolute young men named Abraham Tull and William Hawkins, aged respectively nineteen and seventeen, waylaid and murdered William Billimore, an aged labourer. They stole his silver watch, but were too frightened to continue their search for money which they expected to find, and made a hasty retreat; but they were soon overtaken, and were subsequently, at Reading Assizes, tried and condemned to be gibbeted on Ufton Common within sight of their homes. For many years their ghastly remains were suspended to gibbet posts, much to the terror and annoyance of the people in the district. No attempt was made to remove the bodies, on account of it being regarded as unlawful, until Mrs. Brocas, of Beaurepaire, then residing at Wokefield Park, gave private orders for them to be taken down in the night and buried, which was accordingly done. During her daily drives she passed the gibbeted men and the sight greatly distressed her, and caused her to have them taken down. The ironwork of the gibbets are in the Reading Museum.
William Lewin, in 1788, robbed the post-boy carrying the letters from Warrington to Northwich, between Stretton and Whitley. He managed to elude the agents of the law for three years, but was eventually captured, tried at Chester, and found guilty of committing the then capital offence of robbing the mail. He was hanged at Chester. Says a contemporary account:—"His body is hung in chains on the most elevated part of Helsby Tor, about eight miles from Chester; from whence it may be conspicuously seen, and, by means of glasses, is visible to the whole county, most parts of Lancashire, Flintshire, Denbighshire, Shropshire, Derbyshire, etc., etc." About this period there were three gibbets along the road between Warrington and Chester.
Only five months after William Lewin had been gibbeted for robbing the mails, almost in the same locality Edward Miles robbed and murdered the post-boy carrying the Liverpool mail-bag to Manchester on September 15th, 1791. For this crime he was hanged, and suspended in chains on the Manchester Road, near "The Twysters," where the murder had been committed. In 1845 the irons in which the body had been encased were dug up near the site of the gibbet, and may now be seen in the Warrington Museum. Our illustration is reproduced from a drawing in Mr. Madeley's work, "Some Obsolete Modes of Punishment." It will be observed the irons which enclosed the head are wanting.
Spence Broughton was tried at York, in 1792, for robbing the mail running between Sheffield and Rotherham. He was found guilty, and condemned to be executed at York, and his body to be hung in chains near the place where the robbery had been committed. The gibbet-post (which was the last put up in Yorkshire), with the irons, the skull, and a few other bones and rags, was standing in 1827-28, when it was taken down.
We learn from "The Norfolk and Norwich Remembrancer" (1822), that on May 2nd, 1804, the gibbet on which Payne, the pirate, was hung about 23 years previously, upon Yarmouth North Denes, was taken down by order of the Corporation.
Lincolnshire history supplies some curious details respecting the gibbeting of a man named Tom Otter, in the year 1806. We are told that he was compelled by the old poor law regulations to wed a girl he had injured. He lured her into a secluded spot the day after their marriage, and deliberately murdered her. According to the prevalent custom, Tom Otter's corpse was hung in chains. The day selected for that purpose inaugurated a week of merry-making of the most unseemly character. Booths were pitched near the gibbet, and great numbers of the people came to see the wretch suspended. It is reported that some years later, when the jaw bones had become sufficiently bare to leave a cavity between them, a bird built its nest in this unique position. The discovery of nine young ones therein gave rise to the following triplet still quoted in the neighbourhood:—
"There were nine tongues within the head, The tenth went out to seek some bread, To feed the living in the dead."
The gibbet was standing until the year 1850, when it was blown down.
At the Derby March Assizes, 1815, a young man named Anthony Lingard was tried and convicted for murdering Hannah Oliver, a widow, who kept the turnpike-gate at Wardlow Miers, in the parish of Tideswell. The following account of the crime is from the Derby Mercury, for March 13th, 1815:—
"On Saturday morning, Anthony Lingard, the younger, aged 21, was put to the bar, charged with the murder (by strangulation) of Hannah Oliver, a widow woman, aged 48 years, who kept the turnpike gate at Wardlow Miers, in the parish of Tideswell, in this county.
"It appeared in evidence that the prisoner committed the robbery and murder in the night of Sunday the 15th of January last; that he took from the house several pounds in cash and notes, and a pair of new woman's shoes; that immediately after the deed was perpetrated, he went to a young woman in the neighbourhood, who was pregnant by him, and offered to give her some money with a view to induce her to father the child upon some other person; that he gave her the shoes, and also some money; but it being rumoured that Hannah Oliver had been murdered, and that a pair of shoes had been taken from her, the young woman returned the shoes to the prisoner, who said she had no occasion to be afraid, for that he had had them of a person in exchange for a pair of stockings. The shoes, however, were returned to him; and the evidence adduced in respect to them, as well as in respect to a great variety of circumstances connected with the horrid transaction, was given in such a very minute detail of corroborative and satisfactory proofs, as to leave no doubt in the minds of everyone that the prisoner was the person who had committed the murder, independent of his own confession, which was taken before the magistrates, previous to his committal.
"The trial on the part of the prosecution being closed, and the prisoner not having any witness to call, the learned judge carefully summed up the evidence to the jury, who after a few minutes returned a verdict of guilty.
"His Lordship then passed the awful sentence of the law upon the prisoner, which was done by the learned judge in the most solemn and impressive manner, entreating him to make the best use of his time, and to prepare himself during the short period he had to live, for the great change he was about to undergo.
"Since his condemnation he conducted himself with greater sobriety than he had manifested before his trial; but his temper was obstinate, and his mind lamentably ignorant: and being totally unacquainted with religious considerations, he exhibited very imperfect signs of real penitence, and but little anxiety respecting his future state. He acknowledged the crime for which he was about to suffer the sentence of the law, but was reluctantly induced to pronounce his forgiveness of the young woman who was the principal evidence against him.
"At 12 o'clock yesterday he was brought upon the drop in front of the County gaol, and after a short time occupied in prayer with the chaplain (who had previously attended him with the most unremitting and tender assiduity), he was launched into eternity. He met his fate with a firmness which would deserve the praise of fortitude if it was not the result of insensibility. He appeared but little agitated or dejected by his dreadful situation.
"Let the hope be encouraged that his example may operate as a warning to those among the multitude of spectators, who might not before feel all the horror with which vice ought to be regarded. When wickedness is thus seen not in its allurements, but in its consequences, its true nature is evidenced. It is always the offspring of ignorance and folly, and the parent of long enduring misery.
"Before the Judge left the town, he directed that the body of Lingard should be hung in chains in the most convenient place near the spot where the murder was committed, instead of being dissected and anatomized."
The treasurer's accounts for Derbyshire, for 1815-16, show, says Dr. Cox, that the punishment of gibbeting involved a serious inroad on the county finances. The expenses for apprehending Anthony Lingard amounted to L31 5s. 5d., but the expenses incurred in the gibbeting reached a total of L85 4s. 1d., and this in addition to ten guineas charged by the gaoler for conveying the body from Derby to Wardlow.
A paragraph in Rhodes's "Peak Scenery," first published in 1818, is worth reproducing:—"As we passed along the road to Tideswell," writes the author, "the villages of Wardlow and Litton lay on our left.... Here, at a little distance on the left of the road, we observed a man suspended on a gibbet, which was but newly erected. The vanity of the absurd idea of our forefathers, in thinking that a repulsive object of this kind would act as a deterrent of crime, was strikingly shown in the case of this Wardlow gibbet." It is related of Hannah Pecking, of Litton, who was hung on March 22nd, 1819, at the early age of sixteen, for poisoning Jane Grant, a young woman of the same village, that she "gave the poison in a sweet cake to her companion, as they were going to fetch some cattle out of a field, near to which stood the gibbet-post of Anthony Lingard."
The gibbet was taken down on April 10th, 1826, by order of the magistrates, and the remains of Lingard buried on the spot. We give a drawing of Lingard's gibbet-cap, which is now in the museum at Belle Vue, Manchester.
The Rev. Dr. Cox contributed to the columns of The Antiquary, for November, 1890, some important notes on this theme. "It was usual," says Dr. Cox, "to saturate the body with tar before it was hung in chains, in order that it might last the longer. This was done with the bodies of three highwaymen about the middle of last century, gibbeted on the top of the Chevin, near Belper, in Derbyshire. They had robbed the North Coach when it was changing horses at the inn at Hazelwood, just below the summit of the Chevin. After the bodies had been hanging there for a few weeks, one of the friends of the criminals set fire at night time to the big gibbet that bore all three. The father of our aged informant, and two or three others of the cottagers near by, seeing a glare of light, went up the hill, and there they saw the sickening spectacle of the three bodies blazing away in the darkness. So thoroughly did the tar aid this cremation that the next morning only the links of the iron remained on the site of the gibbet."
On the high road near Brigg, in 1827, a murder was committed by a chimney-sweep. At the Lincoln Assizes he was condemned to be hanged, and hung in chains on the spot where the tragedy occurred. The inhabitants of Brigg petitioned against the gibbeting, as it was so near the town, and consequently that part of the sentence was remitted.
A strike occurred at Jarrow Colliery, in 1832, and Mr. Nicholas Fairles, one of the owners, was a magistrate for the county of Durham, the only one in the district, and he took an active part in preserving peace during the troublesome time. He was seventy-one years of age, and greatly esteemed for his kindly disposition and high moral character. On June 11th he had been transacting some business at the Colliery, and was riding home to South Shields on his pony. When he had reached a lonely place, two men attacked him, dragging him from his horse, because he refused to give them money. They then felled him to the ground with a bludgeon, and as he lay helpless on the ground, heavy stones were used to end his life.
He was left for dead, but on being found and carried to a neighbouring house, it was discovered that he was alive, and after a few hours he recovered consciousness, and was able to give the names of the two men who had attempted to murder him, whom he knew, and who were Jarrow colliers, William Jobling and Ralph Armstrong. After lingering a few days, Mr. Fairles died. Jobling was soon caught, but Armstrong escaped, and was never brought to justice. Jobling was tried at Durham Assizes, and condemned to be hanged and gibbeted. On August 3rd he was executed at Durham, and his body was subsequently escorted by fifty soldiers and others to Jarrow Slake, and set up on a gibbet 21 feet high. The post was fixed into a stone, weighing about thirty hundredweight, and sunk into the water a hundred yards from the high-water mark, and opposite the scene of the tragedy. The gruesome spectacle was not permitted to remain, for on the night of the 31st of the same month it was erected it was taken down, it is supposed, by some of his fellow workmen, and the body was quietly buried in the south-west corner of Jarrow churchyard. It only remains to be added that during the construction of the Tyne Dock, the iron framework in which Jobling's body was suspended was found, and was in 1888 presented by the directors of the North Eastern Railway Company to the Newcastle Society of Antiquaries. On 14th April, 1891, passed away at the advanced age of 96, Jobling's widow, and it has been stated, with her death the last personal link with the gibbet was severed.
The last man gibbeted in this country was James Cook, a bookbinder, at Leicester. He was executed for the murder of John Paas, a London tradesman, with whom he did business. Cook's body was suspended on a gibbet thirty-three feet high, on Saturday, August 11th, 1832, in Saffron Lane, Aylestone, near Leicester. The body was soon taken down, and buried on the spot where the gibbet stood, by order of the Secretary of State, to put a stop to the disturbances caused by the crowds of people visiting the place on a Sunday.
Some little time before the execution of a criminal who was also condemned to be hung in chains, it was customary for the blacksmith to visit the prison and measure the victim for the ironwork in which he was to be suspended.
Hanging Alive in Chains.
Nearly every district in England has its thrilling tale of a man hanging alive in chains. Some writers affirm the truth of the story, while others regard it as merely fiction. We are not in a position to settle the disputed question. Blackstone, in his "Commentaries," published in 1769, clearly states that a criminal was suspended in chains after execution. Holinshed, who died about the year 1580, in his famous "Chronicle of England," a work which supplied Shakespeare with materials for historical dramas, states:—"In wilful murder done upon pretended (premeditated) malice, or in anie notable robbery, the criminal is either hanged alive in chains near the place where the act was committed, or else, upon compassion taken, first strangled with a rope, and so continueth till his bones come to nothing. Where wilful manslaughter is perpetrated, besides hanging, the offender hath his right hand commonly stricken off."
We glean an important item from "England's Mourning Garment," written by Henry Chettle, a poet and dramatist, born about the year 1540, and who died in 1604. He lived in the days of Queen Elizabeth. "But for herselfe," wrote Chettle, "she was alwayes so inclined to equitie that if she left Justice in any part, it was in shewing pittie; as in one generall punishment of murder it appeared; where-as before time there was extraordinary torture, as hanging wilfull murderers alive in chains; she having compassion like a true Shepheardesse of their soules, though they were often erring and utterly infected flock, said their death satisfied for death; and life for life was all that could be demanded; and affirming more, that much torture distracted a dying man." This subject is fully discussed in Notes and Queries, 4th series, volumes X. and XI. A work entitled "Hanging in Chains," by Albert Hartshorne, F.S.A., (London, 1891), contains much out-of-the-way information on this theme.
Bewick, the famous artist and naturalist, in his pictures of English scenery introduced the gibbet "as one of the characteristics of the picturesque."
The old custom of hanging the bodies of criminals in chains was abolished by statute on July 25th, 1834, and thus ends a strange chapter in the history of Old England.
 Cox's "Three Centuries of Derbyshire Annals," 1888.
 M'Lauria (Lord Dreghorn) "Arguments and Decisions," etc., Edinburgh, 1774.
 Andrews's "Bygone Hertfordshire," 1898.
 Sheahan's "History of Buckinghamshire," 1862.
 Stevenson's "Bygone Nottinghamshire," 1893.
 Sharp's "History of Ufton Court," 1892.
 Trial of William Lewin, 1791, Chester, n.d.
 Madeley's "Some Obsolete Modes of Punishment," Warrington, 1887.
 "Criminal Chronology of York Castle," 1867.
 Cox's "Three Centuries of Derbyshire Annals," 1888.
 See "Bygone Leicestershire," edited by William Andrews, 1892.
Hanging, Drawing, and Quartering.
Hanging, drawing, and quartering, with their attendant horrors, have been termed "godly butchery," on account of the divine authority which was adduced to support their continuance. Lord Coke finds in the Bible a countenance for each of the horrid details of the punishment. We see that the texts supposed to bear upon the subject are raked from all parts of the Scriptures with great ingenuity, but with, in our modern eyes, not much of either humanity or probability of there being anything more than a forced reference. The sentence on traitors was pronounced as follows: "That the traitor is to be taken from the prison and laid upon a sledge or hurdle [in earlier days he was to be dragged along the surface of the ground, tied to the tail of a horse], and drawn to the gallows or place of execution, and then hanged by the neck until he be half dead, and then cut down; and his entrails to be cut out of his body and burnt by the executioner; then his head is to be cut off, his body to be divided into quarters, and afterwards his head and quarters to be set up in some open places directed." The headsman, or hangman, commonly sliced open the chest and cut thence the heart, plucking it forth and holding it up to the populace, saying, "Behold the heart of a traitor." The members were disposed on the gates of the cities, and in London on London Bridge, or upon Westminster Hall.
It is asserted that this mode of capital punishment was first inflicted in 1241, on William Marise, pirate, and the son of a nobleman.
For a long period this disgusting punishment was the penalty for high treason. A late instance, and the last in the provinces, occurred at Derby in 1817. At this period distress prevailed to an alarming extent in many parts of the country, but no where was it more keenly felt than in the Midland counties. At the instigation of paid government spies, the poor, suffering people were urged to overthrow the Parliament. The plot was planned in a public house called the White Horse, at Pentrich, Derbyshire. A few half-starved labouring men took part in the rising, being assured by the perjured spies that it would simultaneously occur throughout the breadth and length of the land, and that success must crown their efforts. The deluded men had not advanced far before they were scattered by the Yeomanry, and the chief movers taken prisoners. It was the object of the government to terrify the public and cripple all attempts at obtaining reform. Four judges were sent to Derby to try the poor peasants for rebellion, and commenced their duties on the 15th and ended them on October 25th. Three of the ringleaders, Jeremiah Brandreth, William Turner, and Isaac Ludlam, were found guilty of high treason, and the capital sentence passed upon them; the greater part of the other prisoners were condemned to transportation. Little time was lost in carrying out the sentence; the death warrant for the execution was signed on November 1st by the Prince Regent, and it remitted only quartering, and directed that the three men be hung, drawn, and beheaded. It appears that the High Sheriff, after consultation with the surgeon of the prison and other officials, proposed taking off the heads of the unfortunate men with a knife, and the operation to be performed by a person skilled in anatomy. On this being brought under the notice of the authorities in London, it was, however, decided that the execution should be carried out according to old usage with the axe. Bamford, a blacksmith, of Derby, was entrusted with an order for two axes, to be made similar to the one used at the Tower. They measured eight and a half inches across the edge and were one foot long. On the morning of November 7th, before execution, the three men received Sacrament. The town blacksmith knocked off the irons by which they were loaded, and substituted others that were fitted with locks, so that they might easily be removed. A simply made hurdle was then brought in the prison-yard, and on it they were pulled by a horse to the gallows. It was so roughly constructed that the poor fellows had to be held to keep them on it. "On mounting the scaffold in front of the gaol," says Dr. Cox, to whom we are indebted for many details in this chapter, "Brandreth exclaimed, 'It is all Oliver and Castlereagh;' Turner, following him, also called out, 'This is all Oliver and the Government; the Lord have mercy on my soul.' They hung from the gallows for half-an-hour. On the platform, in front of the gallows, was placed the block and two sacks of sawdust, and on a bench two axes, two sharp knives, and a basket. The block was a long piece of timber supported at each end by pieces a foot high, and having a small batten nailed across the upper end for the neck to rest upon. The body of Brandreth was first taken down from the gallows, and placed face downwards on the block. The executioner, a muscular Derbyshire coal miner, selected by the sheriff for his proficiency in wielding the pick, was masked, and his name kept a profound secret. Brandreth's neck received only one stroke, but it was not clean done, and the assistant (also masked) finished it off with a knife. Then the executioner laid hold of the head by the hair, and holding it at arm's length, to the left, to the right, and in front of the scaffold, called out three times—'Behold the head of the traitor, Jeremiah Brandreth.' The other two were served in like manner. Turner's neck received one blow and the knife had to be applied, but Ludlam's head fell at once. The scaffold was surrounded by a great force of cavalry with drawn swords, and several companies of infantry were also present. The space in front of the gaol was densely packed with spectators." "When the first stroke of the axe was heard," says an eye-witness, "there was a burst of horror from the crowd, and the instant the head was exhibited, there was a terrifying shriek set up, and the multitude ran violently in all directions, as if under the influence of a sudden frenzy."