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Title: Hanging in Chains
Author: Hartshorne, Albert
Language: English
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[Illustration: PIRATE’S CHAINS.

(_From the Thames._)]

                           HANGING IN CHAINS

                       ALBERT HARTSHORNE, F.S.A.

       “No, no; let them hang, and their names rot, and their
       crimes live for ever against them” (Mercy to Greatheart:
       _The Pilgrim’s Progress_, Chapter iv.).

                               New York
                        104 & 106 FOURTH AVENUE



Of the twelve regular methods of proceeding in the courts of criminal
jurisdiction in England, the last--that of execution--is the only one
that is particularly treated of in the following pages. “Sus. per
col.” has been, as it were, the only warrant; but in attempting to
trace some items in a record that runs like a scarlet thread through
the long course of events that constitutes history, it has not been
possible, on the one hand, to avoid touching upon other modes and
details of capital punishment in England, or, on the other, to escape
from straying somewhat into the catalogue of what Blackstone calls
“the shocking apparatus of death and punishment” to be met with in the
criminal codes of other European nations. And while this course has
been pursued,--certainly rather by way of comment and illustration,
than with any desire to “accumulate horrors on horror’s head,”--an
endeavour has also been made, in carrying down the pitiful story, to
dissipate some of the clouds of mystery and fable that have clustered
round the Gibbet. Removed, as we happily are by time, from a period
when it was lawful, and even accepted as fitting, that men who bore the
brand of Cain should be made the subject of a revolting and disgraceful
spectacle, we can approach the matter without prejudice, and with
proper calmness; but it is, perhaps, not so easy at once to realize
how great is the change that has taken place in national feeling and
sympathy since George the Third was king. And if humanity would recoil
to-day with abhorrence from the actual gibbet, sensation itself would
be stunned at the punishment for High Treason,--at the drawing and
quartering of patriots, whose names may shine in history “through their
tears like wrinkled pebbles in a glassy stream.” It will be borne in
mind that the gallows and the gibbet are the most ancient instruments
of capital punishment in the world; as such they have a distinct
archæological as well as a legal interest; and, inasmuch as it appears
that the custom of exposing human bodies in irons and chains is almost
peculiar to this country, doubtless no further motive need be adduced
for now bringing together these scattered English notices. And it is
thought that what may be lacking in other respects may be somewhat
compensated for by the historical and antiquarian features, so that, in
spite of its rather ominous title, the book may be found not entirely


_April, 1891._




 Gibbeting and exposure with the ancient Jews; their
    strong desire for burial, and abhorrence at being cast
    out,--exemplified from the Scriptures,--David, Jotham,
    Azariah; Jehoiakim. Gibbeting with the Egyptians; the
    Chief Baker. The watches of Rizpah; the seven crosses.
    Desire of the Greeks for interment; examples from the
    Iliad; the Æneid. Gibbeting with the Etruscans, Pliny;
    the Cross. Gibbeting with the Romans; their dread
    of exposure, Ovid; the Cross, the Gibbet. The Great
    Sacrifice. Gibbeting of Saints                                  1-12


 Gibbeting with the Anglo-Saxons; Hanging in Chains. High
    Treason,--punishment for,--examples in fourteenth,
    fifteenth, and sixteenth centuries. Drawing and
    Quartering. Wallace; the Despencers; Hotspur.
    Executions for “the --45.” Gibbeting in Jersey. Gallows
    and Gibbet,--difference between, in England; in France         13-25


 Punishments and gibbeting in Germany; in England, in
    seventeenth century; in Scotland,--Treason and Chains.
    The Gibbet in France; _Fourches Patibulaires_ of
    Montfaucon,--La Grande Justice,--description of; mode
    of operation; allusions to in early poetry; Gibbet of
    Montigny; Gibbeting of animals                                 26-41


 The Gallows and Gibbet in Spain. Gibbeting of animals in
    Holland                                                        42-48


 The “Pilgrim’s Progress.” Entry of Charles V. into Douai.
    Punishment of women in England; in France. Examples of
    Hangings in Chains, 1671-1717                                  49-59


 Piracy, 1725. Sir Walter Scott. “Standing Mute.” Squeezing
    the Thumbs. _Peine forte et dure_, example of, 1674.
    The Rack. Burning alive. High Treason,--defined.
    Petition for Hanging in Chains. Examples of Gibbeting,
    1742, 1751. The Smugglers; death from horror of irons.
    Witchcraft                                                     60-69


 Gibbeting in Chains first legally recognized, 1752;
    but not part of the sentence. Roman law concerning
    Gibbeting. Its rapid increase in England. Terror
    at prospect of Gibbet and Chains. Preparation and
    treatment of the body. Effect of Gibbeting on
    spectators and traffic. Hogarth. Thames Pirates
    gibbeted,--attraction for holiday-makers. Behaviour at
    Northampton                                                    70-77


 Examples of Hangings in Chains, 1752-1777. Jemmy Dawson.
    Double Gibbet,--Mr. Kerrich’s sketches. Robbing the
    mail,--triple gibbet. Robbing the mail and gibbeting,
    1788; Robbing the mail and murdering the post-boy, and
    gibbeting. Double Gibbet, 1796. Robbing the mail and
    hanging in irons, 1799                                         78-86


 Bewick’s illustrations of the Gibbet                              87-92


 Example of Hanging in Chains, 1800. Tradition of Hanging
    alive in Chains,--Hollingshed, Chettle,--considered,
    and set aside. Ambrose Gwinnett, 1709. Hanging,
    Boiling, and Quartering                                       93-101


 Example of Hanging in Chains, 1808. Gibbet riddle. Spence
    Broughton. Hanging in Chains at Malta. A Hand gibbeted.
    Supposed Gibbeting alive in Bengal, and in Jamaica.
    The Chapter House at Lincoln a criminal court, 1827;
    the gibbeting remitted. Example in 1832; severance of
    last personal link with the Gibbet (April 14, 1891).
    Last example of Hanging in Chains, 1834. Its abolition
    by Statute. Gibbet with Wooden Head, _in memoriam_.
    Conclusion.--The Halifax Gibbet                              102-114


 Ashmolean Museum.--Eight separate portions of Irons found in various
    parts of Oxford. Some have cylindrical padlocks attached to them.

 Chester Museum.--A leg-piece.

 Doddington Hall, Lincoln.--Parts of Tommy Otter’s Irons. _See_ p. 104.

 Leicester Gaol.--Cook’s Irons. _See_ p. 111.

 Norwich Gaol.--Watson’s Irons. _See_ p. 94.

 Norwich Museum.--A Head-piece.


 Rye, Court Hall.--Breeds’s Irons. _See_ p. 66. _Illustrated._

 Skegness Museum.--Irons.

 Warrington Museum.--Miles’s Irons. _See_ p. 85. _Illustrated._


 In the possession of Lady Dorothy Nevill.--A leg-piece of Carter’s
    Irons. _See_ p. 68.

 In the possession of the Rev. J. W. Tottenham.--Two sets of Pirate’s
    Chains from the Thames. _See_ p. 75. _Illustrated._


  1. PIRATE’S CHAINS FROM THE THAMES          _Frontispiece_

  2. DECAPITATION          }
  3. IMPALEMENT            }                _Facing page_ 26

  5. GIBBET OF MONTFAUCON                         "       34

  6. BREEDS’S IRONS                               "       66

  7. A THAMES PIRATE                              "       76

  8. GIBBET ON BRANDON SANDS                      "       82

  9. MILES’S IRONS                                "       85

 10. GIBBET FROM BEWICK                           "       91

 11. IRON CAGE FROM BENGAL                        "      106


Chapter I.

To rest at last in the ground, to be buried in the sepulchre of
their fathers, was accounted by the Jews as the greatest honour and
happiness, and throughout the Old Testament the expression for death is
sleeping, implying lying tranquil and undisturbed. Thus David, Azariah,
and Jotham “slept with their fathers, and were buried in the city of
David”--“for so He giveth His beloved sleep.”[1]

On the other hand, to die an unnatural or violent death, to be cast
out of the grave like an abominable branch, to be as a carcass exposed
in the sight of the sun, or trodden under foot, and not to be joined
with their fathers in burial, was ever esteemed a note of infamy, and
a kind of curse. “And if a man have committed a sin worthy of death,
and he be to be put to death, and thou hang him on a tree: his body
shall not remain all night upon the tree, but thou shalt in any wise
bury him that day (for he that is hanged is accursed of God); that thy
land be not defiled.”[2] So Jehoiakim was threatened with the want
of even ordinary burial, and to be cast out like carrion into some
remote and sordid place. It was a severe sentence, “He shall be buried
with the burial of an ass, drawn and cast forth beyond the gates of

Again, Jeremiah foretelling the desolation of the Jews, “Their
carcasses will I give to be meat for the fowls of the heaven, and for
the beasts of the earth,”[4] “and no man shall fray them away;”[5] and
in another place we are told that their bones shall be “spread before
the sun, and the moon, and all the host of heaven, ... they shall not
be gathered, nor be buried.”[6]

In the denunciation of Jehoiakim, in that picturesque and striking
scene, when the king burnt the roll of Baruch, it is recorded against
him: “His dead body shall be cast out in the day to the heat, and in
the night to the frost.”[7] So great, indeed, was the dread among
the ancient Jews that the dead body should be treated with derision
or contumely, that the Preacher expressed and summed up the general
sentiment in these words: “If a man ... have no burial, I say that an
untimely birth is better than he.”[8]

As with the Jews so it was with the Egyptians. They refused burial to
executed criminals and gave their bodies to the birds and beasts. For
instance, Joseph said to the chief baker, “Yet within three days shall
Pharaoh lift up thine head from off thee, and shall hang thee on a
tree; and the birds shall eat thy flesh from off thee.”[9] And so it
came to pass.

We may gather, again, from the short and touching story of the long
watches of Rizpah, how deep was the solicitude that the dead should not
be polluted by birds and beasts,[10] or from the ghastly fate of Amasa,
whose mangled corpse was covered with a cloth by a mere bystander--one
of Joab’s men[11]--in order that the people might not be shocked by
looking upon it--how strong was the feeling in those days against the
wanton exposure of the divine image.

It would be easy to multiply examples from these sources, but with
further regard to the seven sons of Saul it may be mentioned that “the
victims were not, as the Authorized Version implies, hung, they were
crucified. The seven crosses were planted in the rock on the top of the
sacred hill of Gibeah.... The victims were sacrificed at the beginning
of barley harvest,--the sacred and festal time of the Passover--and
in the full blaze of the summer sun they hung till the fall of the
periodical rain in October.... She spread on the rocky floor the thick
mourning garment of black sackcloth, which as a widow she wore, and
crouching there she watched that neither vulture nor jackal should
molest the bodies.”[12] Thus the practice of gibbeting on a cross was
in use at least as early as in the days of King David.

The misery of having no burial, of rendering neither justice to the
earth nor mercy to the dead, was recognized by the refined nature
of the Greeks, and, while they refused decent sepulture to infamous
persons and prisoners, they yearned both in peace and war for quiet
burial in the ground, for they were dismayed at the thought of burial
at sea.[13]

Thus Mezentius, in the Æneid of Virgil, asks not Æneas to spare his

                        “but let my body have
    The last retreat of human kind, a grave.”[14]

And Turnus--

    “Or if thy vowed revenge pursue my death,
    Give to my friends my body void of breath.”[15]

And, to take another and a notable example, Hector, in his last hour,
beseeched Achilles to take the ransom and suffer not his body to be
devoured by the dogs of the Greeks, but to let the sons and daughters
of Troy give him burial rites.[16]

It is said that a certain Achæus, who disputed sovereign power with
Antiochus, was betrayed by a Cretan, his limbs cut off, and his body
wrapped in the skin of an ass, and exposed on a gibbet.

Pliny, in his “Natural History,”[17] tells us that Tarquinius Priscus,
who died 578 B.C., ordered the dead bodies of suicides to be exposed on
a cross. He was a powerful ruler, and an Etruscan, and made his mark on
Rome. He came from Etruria when it was in a high state of development,
and, no doubt, the practice of gibbeting on a cross was early in use
with that ancient and gifted race.

The Romans dreaded the public exposure of their bodies, and shipwreck,
no less than did the Greeks; thus Ovid--

    “I fear not death, nor value how I die;
    Free me from seas, no matter where I lie.
    ’Tis somewhat, howsoe’er one’s breath depart,
    In solid earth to lay one’s meaner part;
    ’Tis somewhat after death to gain a grave,
    And not be food to fish, or sport to every wave.”[18]

They refused sepulture to suicides, for they thought it unreasonable
that any hands should bury him whose own had destroyed himself, and
they withheld decent burial from criminals.

Albertus Leoninus, from the Low Countries, one of the ablest lawyers of
the sixteenth century, says, speaking of the Romans, “If any one killed
himself his body was cast out upon a dunghill to have common sepulture
with dogs, &c.; but, however, it was more customary to have his goods
confiscated, and his body hung on the _furca_, or gibbet. All such
persons as hung upon this gibbet were, by the laws, denied sepulture;
and a sentry, says Petronius, was set to watch them, lest anybody
should come by night and steal them away.”[19] The memorable words,
“and sitting down they watched Him there,” cannot fail to occur to the

Our Saviour, with all reverence be it said, was gibbeted--“nail’d, for
our advantage, on the bitter cross,”[20] and it was not until long
after that great Sacrifice--perhaps not until the fifth century--that
the cross became the generally recognized Christian sign, and
gradually took the place of the Chi Rho ☧ emblem.

The number of Saints who suffered, and were exposed upon the cross or
gibbet, is larger than that of those who died the death in any other
way. Saint Ferreolus, martyred in 212, is shown in “Die Iconographie
der Heiligen” with a gibbet proper near him; Saint Anastatius, martyred
in 628, is represented in a fresco in the church of SS. Vincent and
Anastatius, in Rome, upon a gibbet, and pierced with many arrows; and
the martyr Saint Colman, who suffered in the year 1012, is shown in
“Das Passional” of 1480 hanging on a gibbet; in “Die Attribute der
Heiligen” he stands in the _sclavine_ of a pilgrim, with a rope in his
hand, indicating the manner of his death.[21]

Chapter II.

Hence, as we have seen, gradually arose, side by side with the capital
punishment of hanging on the gallows in its simplicity--which may be
almost said to be as old as the world itself--the custom of publicly
exposing human bodies upon gibbets as warnings to others.

We gather from the “Vocabulary of Archbishop Alfric,” of the tenth
century, and from early illuminated MSS., that the gallows (galga)
was the usual mode of capital punishment with the Anglo-Saxons. It
can hardly be doubted that in certain cases, as with the Romans, the
body of the “fordemed”--in the case of decapitation the “heafedleas
bodi”--remained _in terrorem_ upon the gibbet, as Robert of Gloucester,
_circa_ 1280, has it, referring to his own times:--

    “In gibet hii were an honge,”

though not necessarily as part of the sentence, as appears always to
have been the case in England. An obscure poet, Robert Brunne, has:--

    “First was he drawen for his felonie,
    & as a thefe than on galwes hanged hie.”

In the numerous enactments concerning the administration of the
criminal law, from the “Statute of Westminster the First,” in 1277, to
the Act of George II. in 1752, no cognizance is taken of the hanging
of bodies of criminals in chains. Such a treatment of the carcass was,
like the rack, rather an engine of state than of law.

In Chauncy’s “History of Hertfordshire” it is stated:--

“Soon after the King came to Easthampstead, to recreate himself with
hunting, where he heard that the bodies which were 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 of
August, Anno 1381, to the bailiffs of this borrough, 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 judgement; 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
carcasses, but they themselves were compelled to do so vile an office.”

This is an early record of a judgment to hang _in terrorem_, and of
chains for the purpose.[22]

Gower, a contemporary poet, says:--

    “And so after by the Lawe
    He was into the gibbet drawe,
    Where he above all other hongeth,
    As to a traitor it belongeth.”

Again, during the second Northern Rising, in 1536, the Duke of
Norfolk hung and quartered, as the usual punishment for high treason,
seventy-four men at Carlisle, but the bodies of Sir Robert Constable
and Ashe were hung in chains at Hull and York respectively, as special
cases. And the Duke blames the Earl of Cumberland for not having hung
certain persons in chains, as he had directed; he airily adds, speaking
of other examples in Yorkshire, that “they all hang still in chains,
notwithstanding that I have had no small intercession for many of

We gather from these items that, although the public exposure of the
body entire formed no legal part of the punishment for high treason, it
was sometimes added to it for the increase of the shame. Whether the
ensanguined, quivering quarter of a man, uplifted high on a gateway,
had a more deterrent effect than a whole body slowly wasting away in
chains, we are, fortunately, not now called upon curiously to determine.

It may here be mentioned that the punishment for high treason differs
in one important particular from that for murder. The head must be
severed from the body after the hanging. The man must be drawn to the
gallows, and may not walk; he must be cut down alive; his entrails
taken out and burnt before his face. Then the head cut off--“headed,”
and finally the body quartered, and the head and quarters remaining
at the king’s disposal. This was the English law, as finally settled
by the Statute of Treason of 25 Edward III. (1351). Such a sentence
had been first carried out, as it appears, upon a pirate named William
Marise, in 1241. Notable examples are those of Wallace, 1305;[24]
the elder and the younger Despencers, 1326;[25] Hotspur, 1403;[26]
and they are notable examples of shocking barbarity; and not least
memorable though, happily, last, the executions after “the --45,” in
exact accordance with the ancient statute of four centuries before. It
is recorded that one of these last victims struggled for a few moments
with William Stout of Hexham, the fiend who, for twenty guineas and
the clothes, did the bloody business, when he opened his bosom and
plucked out his heart.[27] It is a dreadful subject, which one almost
shrinks from touching; but it may be added that none of the thirty-two
sufferers at Carlisle for “the --45” were hung in chains; they died the
ferocious death for high treason.[28]

As a curiously mitigated example we may mention the case of the five
gentlemen attached to the Duke of Gloucester, who were arraigned and
condemned for treason in 1447. They were hung and immediately cut down
alive, stripped naked, their bodies marked for quartering, and then, no
doubt very much to their surprise, pardoned.

In Jersey, during the administration of the Duke of Somerset, uncle of
Edward VI., two pirates were condemned and hung in chains, as appears
from the following extract from the registers of the island:--

“Placita Catallia cum justicia reallis ten’ die xviij^o Mensis Januarii
An’o Domini Mille^o quinm^o l^o coram Ballj in p’na Clement Lemp’re,
Jo’his de Carteret, Ricardi Dumaresq, Nicoll’ Lemp’re, Jo’his Lemp’re,
Edwardii Dumaresq, Edwardii de Carteret, Laurentii Hamptoune, Georgii
de Carteret, Jo’his de Soullemont.

“John Wyte, Bernabé Le Quesne, Sébastian Alexandre, criminels pour
leur démérites de cas de crime pirates et larons de mer accordant
leur confessions sont condampnés à estre pendus et estranglés de cy
a ce que mort en ensuyve savoir est ledit John Wyte sur une potence
hault eslevée à la pointe de devers S^te Katherine et ledit Bernabey
Le Quesne sur une potence hault élevée p’eillement sur le bec et
pointe de Noirmont aux lieux les plus eminens desdites Montaignes
et la leurs corps demeurer enchâinés po^r y estre consumés et
pourrys, et le dit Sebastien est respité par certaines considerations
prises et considérées en Justice, et to^s leurs biens meubles et
héritages confisqués en la maison du Roi ou des Seigneurs aux q’ls il
app’tiennent” (Cour du Catel).[29]

In Hakluyt’s “Voyages” we find the following:--“Hereupon the souldiers
besought me not to hang them, but rather let them be shot throw, and
then afterwards, if I thought good, their bodies might be hanged upon
gibbets along the haven’s mouth.”[30]

The numerous allusions to gibbets by Shakespeare show how common they
were in his day.

It will have been observed in the foregoing remarks that the words
“gallows” and “gibbet” have been used indifferently in the quotations
both for hanging a man from, and for exposing him upon. It would appear
that, at least with us at the present day, _gallows_ is the thing
upon which men suffer, and _gibbet_ the object upon which they are
set forth. Hence the expression to gibbet a man by calling attention
publicly to nefarious deeds, and, as the one thing has given us the
verb, so the other furnishes the language with an adjective equally
expressive, and a person by his “gallous” conduct stands a fair chance
of reaching the gallows at last. A gallows may by particular use become
a gibbet, but not contrariwise, and the same remark may be said to
apply to Potence and Gibbet.

Chapter III.

Whilst such horrors were going on in England we may be sure that the
Germans, with their dogged brutality, were not behind-hand. With them
the bodies of traitors and highwaymen, as well as of murderers, were
fixed upon poles, set upon wheels, impaled alive, or hung upon gibbets.
Three prints from “La Cosmographie Universelle de Münster,” 1552, give
some notion of the sternness of the Teutonic penal code.

[Illustration: DECAPITATION.

(_Facsimile of an original woodcut in “La Cosmographie universelle de
Münster,” 1552._)]

[Illustration: IMPALEMENT.

(_Facsimile of an original woodcut in “La Cosmographie universelle de
Münster,” 1552._)]

[Illustration: BURNING AT THE STAKE.

(_Facsimile of an original woodcut in “La Cosmographie universelle de
Münster,” 1552._)]

The last instance of burning at the stake in Germany occurred
at Berlin, Aug. 18, 1786. It was then seventy years since a similar
punishment had been carried out in the Prussian capital. The criminal,
stripped to his shirt, was enclosed in a cage-like frame which fastened
with a door, and was surrounded with wood and straw.

The last example of breaking on the wheel was carried out at Vienna
in the above-mentioned year. The victim was tortured with red-hot
pincers--_tenaillé_--as he walked to the place of execution.

Weever, writing in 1631, says:--

“Hee that commits treason, is adjudged by our Lawes, to be hanged,
drawne, and quartered, and his diuided limbes to be set vpon poles in
some eminent place, within some great Market-towne, or Citie.

“He that commits that crying sinne of murther, is vsually hanged vp in
chaines, so to continue vntill his bodie be consumed, at or near the
place where the fact was perpetrated.

“Such as are found guilty of other criminall causes, as Burglarie,
Felonie, or the like, after a little hanging are cut downe and indeed
buried, but seldom in Christian mould (as we say) nor in the sepulchres
of their fathers, except their fathers have their graves made neare, or
vnder the gallowes.

“And we vse to bury such as lay violent hands vpon themselues, in or
neare to the high wayes, with a stake thrust through their bodies,
to terrifie all passengers, by that so infamous and reproachfull a
buriall; not to make such their finall passage out of this present

It is important to notice, as regards hanging in chains, that Weever
says “vsually,” not “always;” and although in the preceding paragraph,
when speaking of treason, he says the punishment for it “is adjudged by
our Lawes,” he makes no such remark now, but is significantly silent
as to the legal nature of chains; but, from the way Weever puts it, it
must have been a common practice at that time in England.

In Scotland, Lord Dreghorn, writing in 1774, says, “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 gallowlee till his corpse rot.”[32]

In 1688 one Standsfield, found guilty of treason for cursing his
father, and accession to his father’s murder, was sentenced to be hung
at the Mercat Cross till he was dead, his tongue to be cut out and
burnt upon a scaffold, his right hand to be cut off and affixed on the
East Port of Haddington, and his body to be carried--not drawn--to
the gallowlee between Leith and Edinburgh, “and there to be hanged in
chains, and his name, fame, memory, and honours to be extinct, and his
arms to be riven forth and delet out of the books of arms.”[33] Thus
the hanging in chains formed part of the sentence in Scotland which it
never did in England for any crime, if we except the solitary instance
at Easthampstead in 1381.[34]

We may now pass for a short time to France. In that country the gallows
was a feudal right which, held in the first place _in capite_, could
be sub-infeudated to lesser vassals, but they could at any time be
suppressed by the Crown.[35] Voltaire, at Ferney, had several gallows
or _potences_, and his reassuring speech about them to his friends was,
“I have as many gallows as would suffice to hang half the monarchs in
Europe, and half the monarchs in Europe deserve no loftier position.”

Charles V. (1380-1422) granted leave to certain districts to have
gallows--_fourches patibulaires_--with two posts, and a curious
question arose in consequence of the Count of Rhodez having placed his
armorial bearings upon a gibbet of this kind against the prerogative
of the king; it was an abuse of privilege, and implied the seizing
of justice. Such gibbets, of which the number of pillars, or, if of
wood, posts, varied from two to eight, according to the quality of the
lord, were used both to hang criminals from, and for the suspension,
exposure, or gibbeting of the bodies of men executed elsewhere upon
temporary gallows. The sites of these _fourches patibulaires_ are
recognizable at the present day by the names, “La Justice,” “La grande
Justice,” titles corresponding to our own more humble and prosaic
terms, “Gibbet Hill,” or “Gibbet Field.” The English gibbets have never
assumed, like those in France, any monumental character.

It is certain that there was already at the end of the twelfth century
a great monumental gibbet on the eminence of Montfaucon, between
the faubourgs of St. Martin and the Temple, in Paris. Sauval gives a
remarkable description of it as at that period, and, although he does
not give his authorities quite in the way English antiquaries might
wish, there can be no doubt, from the documents of the thirteenth
century, that the monument was as Sauval describes it. It underwent
extensive repairs, if not partial re-building, in 1425, when
forty-eight old beams were replaced by new ones. It is also recorded
that in 1466 “at the Great Justice of Paris were attached and nailed
fifty-two iron chains to hang and strangle the malefactors who have
been and shall be sent here by order of Justice.” Eight great new
ladders were subsequently added, and all these details are corroborated
by a representation in an old tapestry at the Hotel de Ville.[36]

From these very curious records the genius of Viollet le Duc has
produced an illustration which is here reproduced. It will speak for
itself better than any description, and it will be only necessary to
say that the fourth, or open side, allowed access to the interior by
a broad flight of steps leading to a wide platform on what may be
called the first floor, running round the three sides of the interior.
Upon this platform the executioner, with his ladders and assistants,
performed his office.


(_From Viollet le Duc, “Dictionnaire raisonné.”_)]

This arrangement enabled the designer of the building to form a vault
in the centre, lighted by a small loop. It had an entrance, or
“eye,” in the crown, at the crossing of the ribs, through which were
swept from time to time the bones and fragments that fell from above,
the _ossuarium_, or charnel-house, being cleared out, as necessity
dictated, through a doorway level with the outside ground on the
further or sinister side of the building. It must have been a thing
quite unique in the world, somewhat recalling the Towers of Silence of
the Parsees.

The mode of operation was as follows:--

The executioner, in his rayed and party-coloured habit of red and
yellow, mounted the ladder, placed opposite a convenient space,
backwards, holding in his hand the slack ends of three cords placed
round the culprit’s neck; two of these cords, “les tortouses,” had
slip-knots. The wretch under treatment was encouraged to follow “le
maistre des haultes œuvres,” driven up after him--no doubt with blows
and execrations, according to the Gallic fashion--and drawn forward by
him by means of the third cord, “le jet.” Arrived at the proper height,
the operator, the mediæval “Monsieur de Paris,” rapidly attached the
“tortouses” to the gallows, or chain pendent from it, and, twisting
the “jet” firmly round his arm, by means of this, and the action of
his knee, threw the culprit off the ladder into mid-air; the knots of
the “tortouses” ran home, and the man was strangled. The executioner
then gripped the crossbeam, and, placing his feet in the loop formed
by the bound hands of the patient, by dint of repeated vigorous shocks
terminated his sufferings.[37]

It may not be questioned that death under the circumstances and
complicated conditions above described cannot have been other than a
very shocking spectacle, and particularly when it is noticed from the
arrangement of the chains that many a malefactor may in his agony have
broken loose from his bonds, and clutched and grappled in his last
moments with a decaying carcass at his side.

We can gather a further idea of the strange and dismal appearance of
the Gibbet of Montfaucon, if we consider that the quantity of bodies
attached to it, and ceaselessly renewed, attracted thousands of carrion
birds to the spot. But that its hideous aspect and pestilential
surroundings prevented not the establishment, in its immediate
vicinity, of places of amusement and debauch, one would almost have
been slow to believe were it not for the testimony of ancient poetry:--

    “Pour passer temps joyeusement,
    Raconter vueil une repeue
    Qui fut faicte subtillement
    Près Montfaulcon, c’est chose sceüe,

       *       *       *       *       *

    Tant parlèrent du bas mestier,
    Qui fut conclud, par leur façon,
    Qu’ils yroyent, ce soir-là, coucher
    Près le gibet de Montfaulcon,
    Et auroyent pour provision,
    Ung pasté de façon subtile,
    Et menroyent, en conclusion,
    Avec eulx chascun une fille.”[38]

So wrote Villon--also called Corbeuil,--in the middle of the fifteenth
century. We shall have occasion, later on, to show that human nature on
the hill of Montfaucon, in the darkness of the Middle Ages, was the
same as human nature in a great English midland town in the enlightened
nineteenth century.

Monsieur de Lavillegille tells us that there was another and a smaller
gibbet, not far from Montfaucon, called “Le gibet de Montigny.”[39]
This was to supply the place of the great scarecrow, when the latter
was under repair, because, of course, Justice never stands still.
The bodies of men decapitated, quartered, torn to pieces by horses,
or boiled, were hung up in sacks of sackcloth or leather; such as
committed suicide also,[40] and lay figures of persons condemned _in
contumaciam_. The corpse of the great Captain Coligny, who was killed
in the massacre of St. Bartholomew, August 24, 1572, was hung up by
the heels at the gibbet of Montfaucon. L’Etoile reports that Catherine
de Medecis--“pour repâitre ses yeux”--went to view him one evening.

It was the custom in France to try, condemn, and hang on the gibbet,
in human clothing, certain animals under special circumstances. So
a sow, who had killed a child, was hung up at Montigny. A bull was
similarly tried and condemned for killing a man, but whether the
beast was gibbeted is not recorded. It may be that the difficulty
and inconvenience of carrying the matter out, or perhaps the trouble
to obtain garments large enough, caused our fantastic neighbours to
draw the line at the bull. But we may fairly admire the principle of
mediæval times, which seems to have been that justice should be meted
out equally both to man and beast. It is pleasant to know that in
many English towns at the present day societies are active in seeing
that not only simple justice, but, what is much better for them, mercy
also, is dealt out to the poor dog, the poor horse, the necessary or
unnecessary cat, and other harmless, helpless creatures.

Chapter IV.

In Spain the body remained usually upon the gallows after execution,
the gallows thus becoming the gibbet. The following story is an
exemplification of this practice:--

“It was my fortune at St. Domingo to enter the Town-Church: accompanied
with two _French_ Puppies, mindful to shew me a miraculous matter.

“Where, when come, I espied over my head, opposite to the great Altar,
two milk-white Hens enravelled in an Iron Cage, on the inner-side of
the Porches _Promontore_. And demanding why they were kept? or what
they signified? Certain _Spaniards_ replyed come along with us, and
you shall see the Story; and being brought to the (_Choro_) it was
drawn thereon as followeth. The Father and the Son, two _Bourboneons_
of _France_, going in Pilgrimage to St. _James_, it was their lot to
Lodg here in an Inn: Where supper ended, and reckoning paid, the Host
perceiving their denariate Charge, he entered their Chamber, when they
were asleep, and in Bed, conveying his own Purse in the young man’s

“To-morrow early; the two innocent Pilgrims, footing the hard bruising
way, were quickly over-hied by the Justice; where the Host making
search for his Purse, found it in the Sons bagg. Whereupon instantly,
and in the same place he was hanged, and left hanging there, seizing on
their money by a Sentential forfeiture.

“The sorrowful Father (notwithstanding) continued his Pilgrimage to
_Compostella_. Where, when come, and Devotion made, our Lord of Mount
_Serata_ appeared to him saying: _Thy prayers are heard, and thy Groans
have pierced my heart, arise, and return to Saint Domingo, for thy Son
liveth._ And he accordingly returned, found it so, and the Son-hanged
Monster, after thirty days absence, spoke thus from the Gallows,
_Father go to our Host, and shew him I live, then speedily return._ By
which direction the old man entered the Town, and finding the Host at
Table, in breaking up of two roasted Pullets, told him, and said: _My
son liveth, come and see._ To which the smiling Host replyd, he is as
surely alive on the Gallows, as these two Pullets be alive in the Dish.
At which Protestation, the two fire-scorched Fowls leapt out suddenly
alive, with Heads, Wings, Feathers, and Feet, and kekling took flight
thrice about the Table. The which amazing sight, made the astonished
Host to confess his guiltiness, and the other relieved from the Rope,
he was hung up in his place, allotting his house for a Hospitality to
Pilgrims for ever.”[41]

Having an opportunity we made inquiries in Holland. In that country
the procedure seems to have been much the same as in France. Our very
obliging correspondent informs us:--

“I am convinced that criminals remained for a long time fastened
to the gallows after the execution. I have in my possession a copy
of an old judgment, dating 1595, which, in my opinion, gives full
evidence of what I advance, as this criminal also remained there a
long time afterwards. It is written in old Dutch, but let me try to
translate it, perhaps it may interest you:--‘The Sheriffs of the city
of Leyden,--Whereas the demand and conclusion done and taken by Lot. E.
Huygengael, Mayor of this city, against and on account of the dog of
Jan Janz van den Poel, named “Troeveetie,” or by any other name that
it might be called, whether by name or surname, at present being in
prison. Whereas the information given by M. Eyssler for this purpose,
as well as the prisoner’s own confession, given without torture or
rack. Giving sentence and justice we have of high authority and on
behalf of the county of Holland and West-Friesland, condemned it (the
dog), by these presents, to be brought into the yard of Graefstyn,
in this city, where criminals are usually punished, and that it may
there, by the executioner, be hung by means of a string on the gallows,
between heaven and earth, so that death may ensue; further, that its
dead body be dragged on a stretcher into the gallows-field, and that
there it be suspended to the gallows in horrification for all other
dogs, and as an example to everybody. We further declare all his
assets, if it owns any, to be forfeited and confiscated in favour of
the county of Holland and West-Friesland. _Actum_ in the public court
of Justice--the “Doomstool”--in the presence of all the Aldermen, May
25, 1595.’

“This dog had bitten J. J. van den Poel’s baby, when playing at his
uncle’s house, where the child was holding in his hand a piece of meat,
which the dog had seized, and so bitten the child, and thus inflicted
a wound on the two fingers of the right hand, through the skin to the
flesh, making the blood pour out of the wound, and causing the child
to die from this world by the terror thus produced within a few days

Chapter V.

From the stony horrors of Paris, and the serio-grotesque doings of the
Batavians, it will be a relief to turn to the imagery of the “Inspired

“Now I saw in my dream, that they went on until they were come to the
place that Simple, and Sloth, and Presumption, lay and slept in, when
Christian went by on pilgrimage: and behold they were hanged up in
irons, a little way off on the other side.”

This was written between 1660 and 1670. It is to be observed that the
expression is “irons,” and not _chains_, and that the fact is mentioned
in a simple, natural way, as if the mode of punishment was quite usual
for grave offences. Christiana says--“They should never be bewailed
by me; they have but what they deserve: and I think it well that they
stand so near the highway, that others may see and take warning.” And
she suggests that their crimes should be engraved on an iron or brass
plate, and left “for a caution to other bad men,” which Greatheart told
her had already been done. But Mercy, with a lack of tenderness which
her name and fine earnest character do not bespeak, cries out, “No,
no, let them hang, and their names rot, and their crimes live for ever
against them!”

The crimes in question were combination against the truth, and
opposition unto holiness, figuratively deserving the highest punishment
that could be awarded.

In that strange, shameful, and scarce book, “Le Moyen de Parvenir,”
by Beroalde de Verville, it is recorded that when Charles V. made his
entry into Douai, the inhabitants set up triumphal arches and like
embellishments. At the last moment they bethought themselves of a
wretch who was gibbeted hard by the gate of the principal entrance.
Him they therefore dressed in a clean white shirt, to do honour to the
emperor.[43] It will be noticed that they did not take the body away,
which would have been easier; that would have been illegal.

Before proceeding further it must be stated, as it were to clear the
ground, that there were certain treasonable offences for which women
might be convicted, and it is to the credit of the English law that
the solemn and terrible sentence was not carried out upon them in
its fulness, so that, both for high treason and petit treason, the
sentence ordered merely drawing to the gallows and burning alive. This
sentence was modified in 30 George III. (1791) to drawing, hanging, and
dissecting. It is similarly to the credit of humanity that the bodies
of women were not publicly exposed on gibbets in irons and chains.

In France the same feelings of respect and propriety prevented the
hanging of women at the “fourches patibulaires.” The sentence for grave
offences was that of “la fosse,” or burying alive, usually in front of
the gibbet.

It will be convenient now to give a variety of examples further
illustrating the subject specially under our notice.

We learn from the parish registers of Bourne, in Cambridgeshire,
that Richard Foster, his wife, and his child, were buried on Shrove
Wednesday, 1671. All three were murdered on the preceding Sunday by a
miscreant named George Atkins. He evaded the law for seven years, but
was finally captured, hung, and gibbeted on Caxton Common, adjoining

In 1674 Thomas Jackson, a notorious highwayman, was executed for the
murder of Henry Miller. He was hung in chains on a gibbet set up
between two elm trees on Hampstead Heath, one of which still remains,
known as “Gallows Tree.” Jackson left a “Recantation,” which was
printed in quarto form immediately after his death. In this rare
tract “is truly discovered the whole mystery of that Wicked and Fatal
Profession of Padding in the Road.”

In 1687 a person named Bunbury was barbarously murdered by one Loseby,
who was caught almost red-handed, executed, and hung in chains on
the top of a tumulus on the Watling Street Road, about four miles
from Rugby. The spot is marked in Beighton’s map of Warwickshire,
from a survey made in 1725, as “Loseby’s Gibbet.” The tumulus was
demolished--as so many others unfortunately have been--in the latter
part of the last century, on the making of a turnpike road between
Daintry and Lutterworth.[44] In modern maps the site of the tumulus is
forgotten, and the spot being now known as “Gibbet Hill,” the ancient
history is wiped out, or, perhaps, to put it more justly, one kind of
history replaces another, as it ever has done, in the revolutions of
time, and an entirely new train of thoughts is called up.

In 1690 one William Barwick, while out walking with his wife at Cawood,
a few miles south of York, threw her into a pond, drowned her, drew
her out, and buried her then and there, in her clothes. Barwick’s
brother-in-law’s suspicions arose, and inquiries were set about; the
man confessed, and was duly tried, condemned, and executed at York, and
hung in chains by the side of the fatal pond. The curious part of this
case was that Barwick’s brother-in-law was urged to move in the matter
in consequence of his having seen, or fancied he saw--it was all the
same in, and long after, the time of Matthew Hopkins[45]--a few days
after the murder, the ghost of his sister, by the side of the water, at
twelve o’clock in the daytime! And his deposition to that effect was
taken before the Lord Mayor on the day preceding the trial.[46]

Probably if Barwick had not confessed, his case, in those times,
against such evidence as this, would have been quite hopeless.

When the convicted man mounted the gallows he naïvely told the hangman
that he hoped the rope was strong enough, because, he said, if it broke
with his weight, he would fall to the ground, and become a cripple
for life. His apprehensions were quieted by the hangman’s assurance
that he might venture upon the rope with perfect confidence. And so it
turned out, for it was, as American speculators would say, a “spot”

For examples in the early years of the eighteenth century, the
following will suffice; they show how thick the gibbets were near

Edward Tooll, executed on Finchley Common, Feb., 1700, and afterwards
hung in chains.--Michael Von Berghem, and another, executed at the
Hartshorne Brewery, June, 1700, and hung in chains, between Mile End
and Bow.--William Elby, executed at Fulham, in the town, Aug., 1707,
and hung in chains there.--Hermann Brian, executed in St. James’s
Street, near St. James’s House, Oct., 1707, and hung in chains at
Acton Gravel Pits.--Richard Keele, and William Lowther, executed on
Clerkenwell Green, 1713, conveyed to Holloway, and there hung in
chains.--John Tomkins, executed at Tyburn, Feb., 1717, with fourteen
other malefactors, and hung in chains.--Joseph Still, executed on
Stamford Hill Road, and hung in chains in the Kingsland Road.--John
Price, executed in Bunhill Fields, and hung in chains near Holloway,

Chapter VI.

It will be recollected that one of the most interesting of Sir Walter
Scott’s novels, “The Pirate,” is founded upon a case of piracy in
the Orkneys, in 1725.[48] The captain, John Gow, and his crew, were
secured, with much courage and address, by a patriotic inhabitant,
James Fea, and the prisoners were prosecuted by the High Court
of Admiralty. The remarkable part of this affair was that, on Gow
“standing mute,” that is, refusing to plead, the judge ordered that
he should be brought to the bar and his thumbs squeezed by two men
with a whipcord until it broke; that it should be doubled, and then
trebled, and that the operators should pull with their whole strength.
This discipline Gow endured with much fortitude, but when he had
seen the preparations for pressing him to death--the _peine forte et
dure_,--until he died, or pleaded, his courage gave way,--few men,
especially bad ones, can look unflinchingly into the dark valley,--and
he said he would not have given so much trouble if he could have been
assured of not being hung in chains. He was convicted, hung, and
gibbeted in the chains he so much dreaded.

Apropos of the _peine forte et dure_, in March, 1674, a man living at
Cannock was arraigned at the Stafford Assizes for the murder of his
father, mother, and wife. He refused to plead, but was adjudged guilty.
For his contumacy he was sentenced to undergo the _peine forte et
dure_, or, in other words to be pressed to death. This was carried out,
as appears from a picture in the Salt Library at Stafford, showing the
unhappy wretch lying on the floor, with a board on his chest covered
with a number of heavy weights.[49]

This must have been a more dreadful agony, while it lasted, than the
“little ease” or the “rack.” The severity of the latter engine is
sufficiently attested by the signatures of Guy Fawkes before and after
that ordeal.[50]

In 1726 Mrs. Catherine Hayes was burnt alive, doubtless for high or
petit treason.[51]

We gather from Howell’s _State_ Trials that when the English Regency
made an order, in 1742, to hang the body of the murderer of Mr. Penny
in chains, they inserted therein that it was on the petition of the
relatives of the deceased.[52]

In 1742 John Breeds a butcher of Rye, conceived a violent animosity
against Mr. Thomas Lamb of the same place, and, as the old Statute of
High Treason would put it, “compassed and imagined” his death. The
opportunity seemed to present itself on the night of March 17th, on
the occasion of Mr. Lamb being about to see a friend off by ship to
France. But, changing his mind at the last moment, he requested his
neighbour, Mr. Grebble, to take his place, which he did. Breeds, or,
as he is called on Mr. Grebble’s tombstone, the “sanguinary butcher,”
sharpened his knife and took his station in the shadowy churchyard,
and soon rushed on the unsuspecting Mr. Grebble, and mortally stabbed
him. The unfortunate victim had strength enough to reach his house, and
sit himself in a chair, out of which he very soon fell, and died, to
the great consternation of his servant, who was at once suspected of
being the murderer. The conduct of Breeds, however, soon cleared up all
doubts upon this point. He was tried, and found guilty, and condemned
to death, and to be hung in chains. For this purpose a gibbet was set
up in a marsh at the west end of the town now called “Gibbet Marsh.”
The carcass of Breeds swung for many years on the morass, and when all
but the upper part of the skull had dropped away, the chains and frame
were rescued by the Corporation of Rye, and have, by lapse of time,
acquired a kind of grim interest, if not exactly to “adorn a tale,” at
least “to point a moral.”

[Illustration: BREEDS’S IRONS, 1742.

(_From a photograph._)]

In 1747 Christopher Holliday was beaten to death with his own staff
by a cold-blooded savage, Adam Graham, on Beck Moor, near Balenbush,
on the English side of the Border. Graham was executed at Carlisle,
and his body hung in chains upon a gibbet twelve yards high, on
Kingmoor, with twelve thousand nails driven into it to prevent it being
swarmed, or cut down, and the body carried off. The murderer left a
confession of several other crimes, which was published at the time in
pamphlet form, and had a large sale.

The smugglers also fell into the dire clutches of the law for the good
reason that their vulgar atrocities deserved the highest punishment.
They were not graceful villains like Claud Duval, that hero of the mob,
who is said--but by disinterested witnesses--to have quite charmed the
victims while he broke two of the commandments. Thus William Carter,
smuggler and murderer, was executed and hung up in chains near Rake, on
the Portsmouth road, in 1749.[53] Four others, concerned in the same
crime, were similarly gibbeted. One of the leg pieces of Carter’s
irons is in the collection of Lady Dorothy Nevill. Implicated in this
affair--namely, the robbery of the Custom House at Poole, and the
murder of Mr. Galley and Mr. Chater--was William Jackson. He, also, was
condemned to be hung, and gibbeted in chains; but the poor wretch was
so ill, and horror-struck when they measured him for his irons, that he
died of fright. His body was thrown into a hole near Carter’s gibbet. A
memorial stone, with a long inscription recording the crime in which so
many suffered, was set up on the spot in 1749, and still remains.

Under the pressure of a belief in the extraordinary delusion of
witchcraft, a harmless and aged couple at Tring,--who had been removed
from the workhouse to the church for safety,--were seized and so
shockingly handled and ducked by a mob at Long Marston, near Tring, in
1751, that the woman, Ruth Osborne, died on the spot. The ringleader,
Thomas Colley, was tried at Hertford, when the revolting particulars of
the barbarities were proved. He was taken for execution to Gubblecote
Cross, in Long Marston parish, thirty miles from Hertford, and so great
was the infatuation, and sympathy for the man who had “destroyed an old
wicked woman that had done so much mischief by her witchcraft,” that a
strong escort of horse was necessary. The body of Colley was afterwards
hung in chains on the same gallows, the people of Long Marston, many
of whom were present at the murder, having petitioned against the
gibbeting near their houses.[54]

Chapter VII.

By this time, as we have seen, it had gradually become usual for the
court, in atrocious cases, to direct that the murderer’s body should
be hung upon a gibbet in chains, near the place where the fact was
committed; but this was no part of the legal judgment.[55] By an Act of
25 George II. (1752) gibbeting in chains was first legally recognized.
By this statute it was enacted that the body should, after sentence
delivered and execution done, be given to the surgeons to be dissected
and anatomized, and that the judge may direct the body to be afterwards
hung in chains, but in no wise to be buried without dissection.[56]

But still the gibbeting did not form, as it never has formed, part of
the legal sentence.[57] The judge could direct it to be carried out by
a special order to the sheriff,[58] and this was sometimes done--as we
have seen in the case of Mr. Penny’s murder in 1741--on the petition
of the relatives of the deceased. The theory was that the body was at
the disposal of the Crown, and that an order to hang in chains would be
granted on application to the proper authorities. This _post-mortem_
revengement was thought to be a singular great comfort to the relatives
of the murdered man. The Roman law also permitted the murderer’s body
to remain on the gibbet after execution, as a comfortable sight to
the relatives of the deceased:--“Famosos latrones, in his locis, ubi
graffati sunt, furca figendos placuit: ut et conspictu deterreantur
alii, et solatio sit cognatis interemptorum.”[59]

The Act of 1752 seems to have cleared the way considerably, and from
this date gibbetings rapidly increased. It may here be recalled that
the idea of being gibbeted was ever a very terrifying one to the
sufferer, and many a strong man who had stood fearless under the dread
sentence broke down when he was measured for his irons. We may inquire
a little what was in prospect for the caitiff that made the iron so to
enter into his soul.

At Newgate, which no doubt gave the example to other prisons, it was
the custom, after execution, to convey the body into a place grimly
called “the Kitchen.” Here stood a caldron of boiling pitch, and into
this the carcass was thrown. It was shortly after withdrawn, placed in
the chains, and these cold-rivetted--truly enough “fast bound in misery
and iron.” We can picture the brutal work, with, no doubt, the coarse
jesting, when the dead malefactor was finally rivetted up in what was
called “his last suit.”

      “’Twas strange, ’twas passing strange;
    ’Twas pitiful, ’twas wondrous pitiful.”[60]

Occasionally the bodies were put into sacks, and so hung up. In France
also, men in the fifteenth century were drowned in sacks of leather;
hence the term “gens de sac et de corde” for evilly-disposed persons at
the present day.

It is well known--for there is frequent allusion to it in the
literature of the time--that travellers approaching London and other
large cities, in the last century, were offended, both in sight and
in other ways, by the number of dingy, dead, iron-bound bodies that
welcomed them. In remote parts a gibbet had the effect of diverting the
slender traffic--at least when night set in. Belated wayfarers were
grieved by the horrid grating sound as the body in the iron frame swung
creaking to and fro. Thus Shakespeare:--

    “Against the senseless winds shall grin in vain,
    Who in contempt shall hiss at thee again.”[61]

And in the daytime these odd features in an English landscape often
proved an attraction to flippant sporting men.

On the banks of the Thames, opposite Blackwall, hung the bodies of
numerous pirates. The Rev. T. Mozeley, in his “Reminiscences,” tells
us that “the only inhabitants of the Isle of Dogs that I ever saw
were three murderers hanging from a gibbet.” A correspondent tells us
“they looked like scarecrows.” One of Hogarth’s pictures of “The Idle
Apprentice” series shows the pirates hanging in the distance.[62] In
later times, in the windows of the waterside taverns at Blackwall,
“spy-glasses,” or what Robinson Crusoe called “perspective glasses,”
were fixed for people to enjoy the spectacle; similarly the Greenwich
pensioners on the Hill used to exhibit the gibbeted pirates on the
opposite side of the river, in the Isle of Dogs, through telescopes;
and when the bodies were removed by legislative enactment, some of the
forward newspapers of the day made an outcry that the holiday-makers
were deprived of their amusements.[63]

[Illustration: A THAMES PIRATE.]

In the same manner, at Northampton, on the occasion of the last public
execution there, in 1852, thousands of people gathered together, and
were painfully disappointed and turbulent when they found the day had
been changed. Some of these worthies said if they could only get at
the under-sheriff “they would let him know what it was to keep honest
folk in suspense,” one old woman loudly declaring that she should
claim her expenses from the authorities.[64] The New Drop set up at
the Northampton County Gaol in 1818 was of such ample capacity that it
was proudly described by the governor as efficient for the hanging of
twelve persons “comfortably.”[65]

Chapter VIII.

In 1752 Captain Lowry suffered at Execution Dock, and was hung in
chains by the side of the Thames, doubtless for piracy; and in the same
year John Swan was executed at Chelmsford and hung in chains in Epping

In 1764 William Corbett was executed on Kennington Common. His body was
“fixed in irons”--a new expression--and hung upon Gallery Wall, between
Rotherhithe and Deptford. Eighteen years earlier the gallant young
rebel, Jemmy Dawson, had been hung, drawn, and quartered on the same
common for “the --45.” A young lady--“dear Kitty, peerless maid!”--died
of a broken heart on the day of his execution.

    “She followed him, prepared to view
      The terrible behests of law;
    And the last scene of Jemmy’s woes
      With calm and stedfast eye she saw.”[66]

On November 16, 1766, Thomas Parker called on his way from Penrith
Market at a small inn at Carlton. Being somewhat the worse for
drink,[67] the landlord urged him to remain, but the shaggy sot
pressed on his way, and was murdered the same night. The affair
caused an extraordinary local interest among a population who had not
forgotten the shocking incidents of the punishments for the Rebellion
of twenty years before. The poor muddled man had been beaten to death
by one Thomas Nicholson, after a violent struggle with the assassin.
The murderer, upon strong circumstantial evidence, was sentenced to
be executed, and his body to be hung in chains near where the crime
was committed. It so hung for many years, slowly dropping to pieces,
until on one stormy night the gibbet was blown down. Shortly after
some humane persons from Edenhall came and gathered the desolate bones
together, wrapped them in a winnowing-sheet--it sounds like an episode
from the Apocrypha, like a good deed of Tobit--and laid them in a
grave. The spot was long after distinguished by the letters, large and
legible, deeply cut in the turf, “T. P. M.,” signifying “here Thomas
Parker was murdered.”[68]

The hanging in chains of a man named Corbet, of Tring, who murdered
Richard Holt in 1773, is noteworthy, as the last instance of gibbeting
in the county of Buckingham.[69]

A notorious highwayman, John Whitfield, was executed and gibbeted on
Barrock, near Wetheral, Cumberland, about the year 1777. It is said
that he was gibbeted alive, and that the guard of a passing mail-coach
put him out of his misery by shooting him. If this were true the guard
was clearly guilty of murder. We shall have occasion to revert to this
question. Later, a sergeant was reduced to the ranks for shooting at
the dead body in chains of Jerry Abershaw, a notorious brigand, on
Wimbledon Common.[70]

In the year 1785 the Rev. Thomas Kerrich made sketches of two men
hanging in chains upon one gibbet on Brandon Sands, Suffolk. At the
present day all other record both of the men (May and Tybald), their
crimes, and their punishment, has, like the coral worm of the completed
reef, utterly passed away; all has succumbed to “the tooth of time, and
razure of oblivion.” The gibbet post is shown bound with iron bands to
prevent cutting down.

[Illustration: GIBBET ON BRANDON SANDS, 1785.

(_From a sketch by the Rev. Thomas Kerrich._)]

About the middle of the last century three men who robbed the north
mail near the Chevin, over against Belper, were all executed and hung
in chains on one gibbet on the top of the mountain. “Now then, you
three, hang there, and be a sign.”[71]

It is recorded that a friendly hand set fire one night to the gibbet
which, with all three bodies well saturated with pitch, was burnt to
ashes, leaving only the irons and chains remaining.[72]

Not unduly to multiply instances we may hurry on to 1788. In this year
the postboy between Warrington and Northwich was robbed by William
Lewin. This was still a capital offence, but the culprit evaded justice
for three years. Being finally overtaken he was executed at Chester,
and his body hung in chains on the highest point of Helsby Tor, eight
miles from Chester, and visible, as it was said, “with glasses,” even
from the Peak of Derbyshire. It was evidently believed that the whole
country round would see and take warning.[73]

            “... but they kill’d him, they
    Kill’d him for robbing the mail,
    They hanged him in chains for a show.”[74]

There were then three gibbets between Liverpool and Warrington.

But the system, like all violent systems, was not deterrent--indeed, a
multitude of men hanging in chains seems to affect the spectator rather
as a curious sight than as the necessary and proper consequence of

[Illustration: MILES’S IRONS, 1791.

(_From “Obsolete Punishments,” by C. Madeley._)]

Five months after the death of the last-mentioned criminal, Edward
Miles was executed and hung in chains, not only for robbing the mail,
but for murdering the postboy also. It was a serious case, and the
man was hung, and gibbeted in irons on the Manchester road, near the
Twystes. These irons, of a very careful manufacture, were dug up on the
spot in 1845, and falling into the hands of the late Mr. Beaumont, are
now preserved in the Warrington Museum.

In 1796 James Price and Thomas Brown were hung in chains on one gibbet
at Trafford, between Chester and Tarporley. A print in the account of
the trial shows the carcasses in iron frames shaped to the body like
the Warrington example.[75]

To take again a southern case. In 1799 two brothers named Drewett,
for attacking the Portsmouth mail, in the delightful district of
Midhurst, were executed on Horsham Common, and their bodies taken
to the scene of the robbery, and hung up in irons. This event still
lingers in memory in the district, and the more so, perhaps, because
the younger of the two convicts is believed to have had the nobility
to suffer for his father, whose guilt he would not disclose.[76] The
“last dying speeches” of these two men, printed with uncouth verbiage,
and picturesque deformity of language, is still occasionally to be met

Chapter IX.

Few persons of taste have failed to make themselves acquainted with
the works of Bewick, the father of English wood-engraving. In them
we have everything the most truthful and poetical. Wide, wild moor,
the desolation of winter, with the solitary worn-out horse, forgotten
in the snowy waste; the falling fane, the crumbling tower; scenes on
northern shores,--rocks and sea-fowl, wrecks and tempests.[77] He
delights to show us in his famous tailpieces such pictures as the
ragged rapscallions that abound in streets, graceless and cruel;
beggars and strollers with bear, monkey, or trumpet; lame soldiers
and wounded men, real or sham; the belated traveller in the rain;
the snow-man of our childhood; the tipplers with their delightful
tall, twisted-stemmed wine-glasses, all “regardless of their doom,”
or returning with faltering steps from the tavern; the man on the
stepping-stones, bowed down with his burden, the poor mewing cat
turning round and round at sea in a tub. Among his principal engravings
Bewick gives us in his “Quadruped,” and with a delicacy and force
that no modern workman has equalled, for instance, the lion rearing
a majestic crest, and “we seem to hear his awful voice, rolling like
thunder along the ground, and cowing all nature into silence;”[78] the
tiger with his fearful glittering eye, that only Rubens or Rivière can
paint. Among birds we may recall the woodcuts of the moping thoughtful
owl; the water ouzle, with his white waistcoat, sacred to the rocks of
the Dove; and the carrion crow wheeling round the gibbet. All these
are capital examples of Bewick’s skill; they are, indeed, as fine as
they can be, and rendered with the magic touch, with that wonderful
feeling for nature which just make the difference between the plodding
draughtsman and the born artist. Many persons can “draw,” but very few
can draw even tolerably. And Bewick chose, like Hogarth, to portray
humanity in some of its degradations, and to call up our feelings
against violence and wickedness and the abuse of man’s high quality.
He shrank not from the gibbet, he saw its educational value, and, with
absolute fidelity, he gives us many examples of the time-honoured
horror, standing out stark and bare against the bleak sky.

In a late year of the last century a man was hung in chains in the
north of England,--but the particular place we have not been able to
identify. And we lift the long-forgotten crime up to notice now because
it forms the subject of a tailpiece by Bewick to the Introduction to
“Carrion Birds.”[79] The print is here roughly reproduced because it
exhibits some particular features. The head is tied up in a white
cloth, with a tender touch of feeling, and the body fastened up in
irons with Doric simplicity; the post is stuck full of thousands of
nails, like the example near Carlisle, to prevent men from coming and
climbing and stealing the body away--a precautionary measure recalling
the sentry of Roman times.[80]

[Illustration: GIBBET.

(_From a woodcut by T. Bewick, “British Birds.”_)]

Chapter X.

About the year 1800 a man named Watson was executed at Lynn for the
murder of his wife and child. The body was taken to Bradenham Heath,
and there gibbeted in irons. Some few years ago the gibbet was still
standing, and at the foot of it Mr. H. Rider Haggard and his brother
found, imbedded in the sod, the upper portion of the iron framing,
including the headpiece, with a portion of the skull remaining in it.
So it had been withdrawn from sight by kindly nature, in her pitying
mood, and covered by the greensward. A lady of that neighbourhood, who
died a few years ago, aged ninety-four, used to relate, that when she
was a girl, she once crossed the gibbet common, and noticed that a
starling had built her nest in the man’s ribs; later on some lovers of
nature came from Shipdam and stole away the young birds. The remains
of Watson’s irons are now deposited in the Norwich Gaol, among a very
interesting collection of chains, gyves, irons, gang-chains, and
burning girths for the “pale martyrs in their shirts of fire.”

A noteworthy feature in this case was, as in that of John Whitfield,
before mentioned, that it got about, in latter days, in the
neighbourhood, that the man had been hung up alive, and watched till
he died. Similarly, we have a story from Durham, showing that one
Andrew Mills, gibbeted alive in 1684, for murdering his master’s three
children, was kept in existence for some time by his sweetheart (of
course), who, until she was prevented, gave him milk in a sponge at the
end of a stick.[81]

These kind of stories usually fall to pieces when they are examined,
and it so happens that on the tombstone of the three unfortunate
little children, in Merrington churchyard, are the words:--“He was
executed and afterwards hung in chains”; but “_executed and_” have been
nearly obliterated by deep chisel marks,[82] thus forming at once both
the _post hoc_ and the _propter hoc_ of the story. As to the milk,
and the sweetheart, this part of the fable is nothing but a free
rendering--necessary under the circumstances--of the classical legends
of Euphrasia and Evander, of Xantippe and Cimonos.[83] Tradition often
does, but just as often--or oftener does not justify itself.[84]

This suggests a few words upon the question of hanging alive in chains.
Hollingshed, in his “Description of England”[85] says:--“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 fact was committed, or else, upon compassion taken,
first strangled with a rope, and so continueth till his bones come
to nothing.” Chettle, in “England’s Mourning Garment,”[86] speaking
of the clemency of Elizabeth, says:--“Where-as before time there was
extraordinary torture, as hanging wilfull murderers alive in chaines;
she having compassion ... said their death satisfied for death.”

These, and many other similar arbitrary statements, might seem
conclusive evidence; but, on the other hand, the “Statutes at Large”
may be vainly searched to find one directing the punishment of
gibbeting alive. And when we recall the calm language in which persons
are directed by statute to be boiled, disembowelled, or burnt alive, we
may be quite sure that, if the English law had ever contemplated the
infliction upon a subject of such lingering torture as gibbeting alive,
it would have been as coldly and legally set forth, and, by this time,
as legally repealed,--which is perhaps, more to the point still. And,
further, it is difficult to believe that any English official would, at
any time,--whether under the pressure of the hardening influences of
religious intolerance, or politics,--have taken upon himself so serious
a responsibility, or that any section of the English people would have
suffered such wanton barbarity. The conclusion we are happily driven
to is that both Hollingshed, Chettle, and all the old and modern
hare-brained irresponsible chatterers have been carried away by a
superstitious belief in a poor, vulgar fiction, “a vain thing fondly
imagined,” and to which the multitude of to-day still appear to cling
with a fatuous devotion which, probably, no amount of education or
refutation will ever entirely eradicate. This shows the strong vitality
of fiction.

With regard to the punishment of hanging and boiling, alluded to
above, a single example will suffice. After the suppression of the
Northern Rising the king attacked the Friars. Their popularity and
poverty alike had saved them when the lesser monasteries fell; but
their independence and boldness, in preaching against the Marriage
question and the Supremacy, proved their ruin. Those who had not
fled the country were treated with the utmost harshness. Thus Father
Stone, an Austin Friar of Canterbury, for obstinately maintaining his
opinion that the king may not be head of the Church of England, was
hung, cut down, and his body boiled and quartered, as appears from the
following very curious document preserved among the records of the city
of Canterbury:--“A.D. 1538-9. Paid for half a ton of timber to make a
pair of gallaces to hang Father Stone. For a carpenter for making the
same gallows and the dray. For a labourer who digged the holes. To four
men who helped to set up the gallows. For drink to them. For carriage
of the timber from stable gate to the dungeon.[87] For a hurdle. For
a load of wood, and for a horse to draw him to the dungeon. For two
men who set the kettle and parboiled him. To two men who carried his
quarters to the gate and set them up. For a halter to hang him. For two
half-penny halters. For Sandwich cord. For straw. To the women that
scoured the kettle. To him that did execution.”[88]

An obliging correspondent tells us that he remembers riding with his
father, in 1819, under a gibbet near Evesham, and the creaking of the
irons as they were swayed by the wind.

Chapter XI.

Towards the year 1808 a man named Thomas Otter, _alias_ “Tom Temporal,”
was hung at Lincoln for the murder of a woman with whom he cohabited
there. It appears that she had followed him when returning into
Nottinghamshire where his wife lived. At the junction of the two
counties he turned on her, like a wild beast, and slew her--in a
lane near Saxilby, still called “Gibbet Lane”--and flung the body
into a drain dividing the two counties. Not exactly knowing which
way to go at the moment,[89] the bewildered miscreant fled back as
quickly as he could to Lincoln, was captured, and nearly proved an
_alibi_ at the trial. But he was convicted and executed, and hung in
chains on the fatal spot. This custom had then, fortunately, fallen
somewhat into disuse; but even desuetude had its drawbacks, for crowds
came to see the spectacle,--just as all Sheffield and Rotherham
flocked to the gibbet of that famous highwayman, Spence Broughton,
on Attercliffe Common in 1792, and a stall with that curious cloying
refreshment--gingerbread--was set up, after the English rural fashion.
Subsequently some inquiring tomtits were attracted, and made their
nest, and hatched seven young ones, in the upper part of the iron frame
where the head was fixed; and a local poet, in the fulness of his
heart, produced the following riddle:--

    “10 tongues in one head,
    9 living and one dead,
    I flew forth to fetch some bread,
    To feed the living in the dead.”

(Answer) “The tomtit that built in Tommy Otter’s head.”

Years after, our informant,[90] riding in Gibbet Lane, came to the
gibbet and saw bones and rags of clothing lying upon the ground, and
the skull remaining in the iron headpiece. Parts of these irons are now
preserved at Doddington Hall, near Lincoln.

Another courteous correspondent[91] informs us that nearly seventy
years ago, in Malta, on the occasion of a public festival, the body
of one of two brothers, between whom a feud had long existed, was
found murdered. Circumstantial evidence pointed so strongly to the
survivor as the assassin that he was tried, condemned, and executed. In
accordance with the Code Rohan, the right hand was separated from the
body, and gibbeted in an iron cage. Some years had passed by when a man
dying in the Civil Hospital confessed himself to be the murderer; he
earnestly begged that something might be done to remove the stain from
the memory of the blameless brother, and presently passed away. The
gibbeted hand was now lowered and followed to a grave by an impulsive
multitude in sobs and tears, uttering prayers and entreaties for the
repose of the soul of the innocent victim, and trusting that the
ordeal of martyrdom through which he had passed in this world might
prove to him a crown of glory in the next.

The same correspondent vividly recalls the bodies of pirates hung in
chains on the walls of the fort of Ricasoli, at the entrance to the
harbour of the island of Malta, as seen by him in 1822.

“A Lady Pioneer” describes an ancient rusty cage, here illustrated,
seen hanging from a tree by a friend in Eastern Bengal. This was said
to have been used as a punishment for dacoits, the tradition being that
they were hung up alive.[92] The shape and careful manufacture almost
seem to bear this out. In the Asiatic Society’s Museum at Calcutta an
iron apparatus for the same purpose is preserved. Another exists in
Jamaica, and to both the same legend is attached.[93]


(_From an engraving in “The Indian Alps.”_)]

In the year 1827 a chimney-sweep committed a murder on the high
road near Brigg, and was tried at Lincoln. It so happened that the
new Assize Courts were then being erected, and the Dean and Chapter
lent their majestic Chapter House for the trial. This building was
temporarily fitted up as a criminal court, the trial took place in it,
and lasted all day, and in the deepening gloom, under the shadow of St.
Hugh’s great minster, Judge Best sentenced the prisoner to death, and
ordered the body to be hung in chains on the spot where the crime was
committed. It is well remembered, by a gentleman who was present, what
a strange, solemn, and striking scene it was. The inhabitants of Brigg
petitioned against the gibbeting, on account of the scene of the murder
being so very near the town, and this horror was accordingly remitted.

In 1832, on the occasion of a pitmen’s strike at Shields, Mr. Nicholas
Fairles was the only resident magistrate, and, as such, had to take
active steps to preserve the peace. On June 11th he was riding to
Jarrow Colliery when he was attacked and pulled from his horse by
two men, and so ill-treated that he died on the 21st. One of the men
escaped, the other, William Jobling, was taken, tried at Durham, and
hung on August 3rd. The body was escorted by soldiers to Jarrow Slake,
stripped, covered with pitch, and reclothed. It was then carefully
encased in a framework of iron,--the face being wrapped in a white
cloth,--and hung on a gibbet twenty-one feet high and bound with iron
bands. The post was fixed into a stone of one and a half tons’ weight
which was sunk into the Slake about a hundred yards within high-water
mark, and nearly opposite the spot where the murder was committed.
Jobling’s gibbet was covered for about five feet up by the high tide.
During the dark night of August 31st the body was stolen away, and is
said to have been buried in the south-west corner of Jarrow churchyard.

It is a curious coincidence that while these pages have been passing
through the press Jobling’s widow has died (April 14, 1891) at the
great age of ninety-six. Thus the last personal link with the Gibbet
has been severed.[94]

The last example of hanging in chains:--

                  “Last scene of all,
    That ends this strange eventful history,”[95]

is that of a man named Cook, a bookbinder, who murdered Mr. Paas, with
the iron handle of his press, at Leicester, in 1834. He was sentenced
to death, and the body ordered to be gibbeted. This was done in Saffron
Lane, outside the town, and the disgraceful scene around the gibbet, as
described by an eye-witness, was like a fair. A Dissenter mounted upon
a barrel and preached to the people, who only ridiculed him, and the
general rioting soon led to an order for the removal of the body.[96]
In the same year (4 William IV.) Hanging in Chains was abolished by
statute. The irons which proved so strong a magnet are now preserved in
Leicester Gaol.

Finally, an accomplished Northamptonshire antiquary[97] informs us
that many years ago he came to a lone hill at Elsdon, near Morpeth, in
Northumberland, and found a gibbet with a wooden head hanging from it;
this still exists. It seems that the murderer, whose crime it recorded,
William Winter, who slew Margaret Crozier, in 1791, sat down to his
lunch in a sheep-fold, and a curious shepherd-boy abstractedly counted
the nails in his boots, and noticed his peculiar knife, and this led to
his apprehension. The wooden head is a memorial of the savage past, a
relic of “the good old times,” which we may truly rejoice to think have
passed away for ever.

We have now dealt with some of the changeless passions in what the
immortal Castaway calls “that strange chequer-work of Providence,
the life of man.” We have traversed the gory path of dishonour from
end to end, at times with wide steps, a way often obscure, and ever
slippery with blood. It has not been necessary to go to mendacious
chroniclers, or scandalous diaries, for this story of man’s high nature
in some of its degradations, for we have, verily, as in the “Visions
of Mirza,”[98] essayed to cross the bridge over the Vale of Misery; we
have “unloaded all the gibbets, and pressed the dead bodies.”[99]

It has been impossible to treat of such a ghastly subject--of which
the horrors seem to burn themselves into the mind--without a certain
amount of ghastliness; indeed, without the plea of attempting to throw
a ray of light into some of these dark corners of history, we should
almost have flinched from bringing forward these melancholy topics,
making sensibility shudder, and which our readers may, perchance, find
it a pleasure to forget. And in imagination we already hear the cry--

    “Vex not his ghost: O, let him pass! he hates him
    That would upon the rack of this tough world
    Stretch him out longer.”[100]


NOTE.--Any notice of Gibbets in England would be incomplete without a
reference to the _Halifax Gibbet_. This instrument of speedy but rough
justice resembles the _Guillotine_. It remained in use until 1650, and
records exist showing how numerous were the sufferers under its swift
blade. The Earl of Morton, passing through Halifax about the middle
of the sixteenth century, witnessed an execution, and is said to have
been so much pleased with it that he had a similar machine made for
Scotland, where he was Regent. It long remained unused under the name
of “The Maiden.” But on June 3, 1587, the Regent was himself executed
by it. Thus, as we have it in Hudibras, he “made a rod for his own
breech.” The Maiden is now preserved in the Museum of the Society of
Antiquaries of Scotland, at Edinburgh.--_See_ “Halifax and its Gibbet
Law,” &c., 1756.


 Achæus, his end, 9.

 Alfric, Archbishop, Vocabulary of, 13.

 Amasa, fate of, 5.

 Anastatius, Saint, martyrdom of, 12.

 Anglo-Saxons, the; use of gallows with, 13.

 Azariah, burial of, 1.

 Baker, the Chief, fate of, 4.

 Bewick, his woodcuts, 87;
   his representations of the gibbet, 89, 91.

 Boiling and quartering, example of, 100.

 Brunne, Robert, 14.

 Chains--_see_ Hanging in.

 Chettle, on hanging alive in chains, 97.

 Coligny, hung on gibbet of Montfaucon, 40.

 Colman, Saint, martyrdom of, 12.

 Constable, Sir Robert, 16.

 Cross, the, the gibbet, 6, 9;
   the Christian emblem, 11.

 David, burial in city of, 1.

 Despencers, the, execution and quartering of, 19;
   burial of their remains, _ib._

 Douai, gibbet at, 51.

 Dreghorn, Lord, on hanging in chains in Scotland, 29.

 Egyptians, the, their treatment of the bodies of criminals, 4.

 Etruscans, their gibbeting on a cross, 9.

 Ferreolus, Saint, martyrdom of, 12.

 _Fourches Patibulaires_, 31.

 Furca (Gibbet), use of, with the Romans, 11.

 Galga (Gallows), use of, with the Anglo-Saxons, 13.

 Gallows and Gibbet, difference between, in England, 25;
   in France, _ib._

 Gallows, the, in England, 14;
   in Scotland, 29, 30;
   in France,--_fourches patibulaires_,--31;
   their monumental character, 32;
   in Spain, 42;
   in Holland, 46;
   at Douai, 51.

 Germans, the, punishments with, 26.

 Gibbet of Montfaucon, description of, 33;
   mode of operation, 35;
   ancient poetry concerning it, 38;
   of Montigny, 39;
   in England, 74;
   effect on travellers and traffic, _ib._;
   of Halifax, 114.

 Gibbet riddle, 104.

 Gibbeting of animals, in France, 40;
   in Holland, 45.

 Gloucester, Robert of, 14.

 Gower, John, 16.

 Halifax, gibbet of, 114.

 Hand gibbeted in Malta, 105.

 Hanging in chains:--At Easthampstead, 15;
   at Hull, 16;
   at York, _ib._;
   in Jersey, 22;
   in England, 1631--the usual custom, 27;
   in Scotland, 1637, 29;
   near Edinburgh, 1688, 30;
   noticed in the “Pilgrim’s Progress,” 49;
   at Bourne, Cambridgeshire, 53;
   at Hampstead, 54;
   near Rugby, _ib._;
   at Cawood, near York, 55;
   near London, 58;
   in the Orkneys, 61;
   by petition, 64;
   at Rye, 66;
   at Carlisle, _ib._;
   at Rake, Sussex, 67;
   at Long Marston, Buckinghamshire, 69;
   first legally recognized, 70;
   terror evoked at prospect of, 72;
   preparation of the body for, 73;
   Thames Pirates, 75, 78;
   in Epping Forest, _ib._;
   near Penrith, 80;
   at Tring, 81;
   near Wetheral, Cumberland, _ib._;
   on Brandon Sands, double gibbet, 82;
   near Belper, triple gibbet, 83;
   near Chester, 84;
   near Warrington, 85;
   near Chester, double gibbet, _ib._;
   near Midhurst, 86;
   examples illustrated by Bewick, 90, 91;
   near East Dereham, 93;
   near Durham, 95;
   at Deal, 96;
   near Lincoln, 103;
   near Sheffield, _ib._;
   in Malta, 106;
   in Bengal, _ib._;
   at Calcutta, 107;
   in Jamaica, _ib._;
   ordered near Brigg, but remitted, 108;
   on Jarrow Slake, _ib._;
   near Leicester, last example of, 110;
   abolition of, by Statute, _ib._;
   wooden head in memoriam, near Morpeth, 111.

 Hanging alive in chains, fable of, 94;
   statements of Hollingshed and Chettle, 97;
   the fiction examined, and set aside, 99.

 Hector, his desire for burial, 8.

 High Treason:--Punishment for, 16;
   description of, 18;
   Statute of 1351, _ib._;
   first example of, 1241, _ib._;
   Wallace, _ib._;
   the Despencers, 19;
   Hotspur, _ib._;
   executions for “the --45,” 21;
   pardon of five gentlemen for, 1447, 22;
   definition of, 63;
   Jemmy Dawson, 79.

 Hollingshed, on hanging alive in chains, 97.

 Hotspur, execution and quartering of, 19;
   the remains again brought together, _ib._

 Jehoiakim, denunciation of, 3.

 Jeremiah, prophecy of, 3.

 Jersey, hangings in chains in, 22.

 Jews, the, treatment of their dead, 4.

 Jotham, burial of, 1.

 Justice, La, La Grande, 32.

 Kerrich, Mr., his sketches, 82.

 Leoninus, Albertus, on suicide with the Romans, 10.

 Lincoln, the Chapter House at, a criminal court, 107.

 Malta, a hand gibbeted, 105;
   pirates at, 106.

 Marise, William, a pirate, 1241, 18.

 Medecis, Catherine de, views Coligny on the gibbet of Montfaucon, 40.

 Mezentius, his desire for burial, 7.

 Montfaucon, gibbet of, 33.

 Montigny, gibbet of, 39.

 Norfolk, Duke of, 16.

 Northern Rising, 1536, 16.

 Northampton, behaviour at, 76.

 Our Saviour, gibbeted, 11.

 Peine forte et dure, 61, 62.

 “Pilgrim’s Progress,” the, hangings in chains in, 49.

 Piracy in the Orkneys, 60.

 Pirates gibbeted, in Jersey, 22;
   on the Thames, 75, 78;
   in Malta, 106.

 Preacher, the, on lack of burial, 4.

 Quartering:--At Carlisle in 1536, 16;
   of a pirate, in 1241, 18;
   of Wallace, _ib._;
   the Despencers, 19;
   Hotspur, _ib._;
   for “the --45,” 21.

 Rack, the, 62.

 Rizpah, watches of, 5, 6.

 Rhodez, Count of, his seizing of justice, 31.

 Robbing the mail, 83, 85, 86.

 Romans, the, their dread of exposure, 9;
   their use of the furca, or gibbet, 11;
   their laws as to gibbeting, 72.

 Saints, gibbeted, 12.

 Smugglers, gibbeted, 67.

 Standing Mute, 61, 62.

 Statute of Westminster the First, 1277, 14;
   of treason, of Edward III., 1351, 18;
   of George II., 1752, 70, 72;
   of William IV., 1834, 110.

 Tarquinius Priscus, orders gibbeting on a cross, 9.

 Thames Pirates, 75;
   chains of, _ib._

 Villon (Corbeuil), his poetry on the gibbet of Montfaucon, 38.

 Vincent, Saint, martyrdom of, 12.

 Voltaire, his gallows at Ferney, 31.

 Wallace, execution and quartering of, 18.

 Weever, on punishment for treason, murder, &c., 27;
   on hanging in chains, _ib._

 Witchcraft, 68.

 Women, punishment of, in England, 52;
   in France, 53.



[1] Psa. cxxvii. 2.

[2] Deut. xxi. 22, 23.

[3] Jer. xxii. 19.

[4] Jer. xix. 7.

[5] Deut. xxviii. 26.

[6] Jer. viii. 2.

[7] Jer. xxxvi. 30.

[8] Eccles. vi. 3.

[9] Gen. xl. 19.

[10] 2 Sam. xxi. 10.

[11] 2 Sam. xx. 12.

[12] Smith’s “Dict. of the Bible,” s.v. Rizpah.

[13] Of justice, in that earth should be returned to earth, and dust
to dust, for what could be more just than to restore to mother earth
her children, ... that she might at last receive them again into her
bosom, and afford them lodging till the resurrection? The ancients
also thought it an act of mercy to hide the dead in the earth, that
the organs of such divine souls might not be torn and devoured by wild
beasts, birds, &c. T. Greenhill, “ΝΕΚΡΟΚΗΔΕΙΑ,” p. 33.

[14] Dryden’s “Translation”--Æneid, lib. ix. v. 901.

    Nullum in cœde nefas nec sic ad prœlia veni
    Nec tecum meus hæc pepigit mihi fœdera Lausus
    Unum hoc, per, si qua est victis venia hostibus oro;
    Corpus humo patiare tegi: scio acerba meorum
    Circumstare odia: hunc, oro, defende furorem,
    Et me consortem nati concede sepulchro.

[15] Dryden’s “Translation”--Æneid, lib. xii. v. 935.

    Et me, seu corpus spoliatum lumine mavis,
    Redde meis.


    Τὸν δ' ὀλιγοδρανέων προσέφη κορυθαίολος Ἕκτωρ·
    Λίσσομ' ὑπὲρ ψυχῆς, καὶ γούνων, σῶν τε τοκήων,
    Μή με ἔα παρὰ νηυσὶ κύνας καταδάψαι Ἀχαιῶν·
    Ἀλλὰ σὺ μὲν χαλκόν τε ἅλις χρυσόν τε δέδεξο,
    Δῶρα, τά τοι δώσουσι πατὴρ καὶ πότνια μήτηρ·
    Σῶμα δὲ οἴκαδ' ἐμὸν δόμεναι πάλιν, ὄφρα πυρός με
    Τρῶες καὶ Τρώων ἄλοχοι λελάχωσι θανόντα.

    --Hom. Il. xxii. 337-343.

[17] Lib. 36, cap. 15.


    Non lethum timeo, genus aut miserabile lethi:
    Demite naufragium; mors mihi munus erit.
    Est aliquid fatove suo, ferrore cadentem
    In solida moriens, ponere corpus humo:
    Est mandata suis aliquid sperare sepulchra,
    Et non æquoreis piscibus esse cibum.

[19] Lew Leew, “Process. Criminal.”

[20] _King Henry IV._, Act i. sc. 1.

[21] Husenbeth, “Emblems of Saints,” edit. 1882.

[22] Chauncy, “History of Hertfordshire,” vol. ii. p. 274.

[23] F. A. Gasquet, “Henry VIII. and the Monasteries,” vol. ii. p. 164.

[24] The Chancellor’s Roll states that the cost of Wallace’s execution,
and transmitting the quarters to Scotland, was 61s. 10d. “He was take
and broute onto London, hanged, and drawn, and quartered; his hed
sette on London brigge; his body dyvyded in iiij quarteres and sent to
foure tounes in Scotland” (Capgrave’s “Chronicles”). Wallace was hung,
cut down alive, opened, his bowels, &c., burnt, beheaded, and finally
quartered. Newcastle had his brave right arm, the left went to Berwick,
Perth received the right leg, and Aberdeen the left. Thus the patriot
was broken up.

[25] “Enormiter, pertitiose, et crudeliter, sine judicio et responsione,
suspensus, distractus, et in quatuor partes divisus fuit; et in nostra
ecclesia diu postea sepultus” (Tewkesbury _Register_).

[26] The battle of Shrewsbury was fought July 21, 1403, and the four
quarters of Hotspur were divided between London, Shrewsbury, Chester,
and Newcastle. York had the head. Four months later, namely, November
3rd., a writ was directed to the mayor and sheriffs of York, as

“The King to the Mayor and Sheriffs of the city of York,
greeting.--Whereas of our special grace we have granted to our Cousin
Elizabeth, who was the wife of Henry de Percy, Chivalier, the head and
quarters of the same Henry to be buried: We command you that the head
aforesaid, placed by our command upon the gate of the city aforesaid,
you deliver to the same Elizabeth, to be buried according to our grant
aforesaid. Witness the king at Cirencester, this 3rd day of November.”

By writ of Privy Seal:--

“The King to the Mayor and Sheriff of the town of Newcastle-on-Tyne,
greeting.--Whereas (&c., &c., as above) you deliver to the said
Elizabeth a certain quarter of the said Henry placed upon the gate”
(&c., &c., as above).

Similar writs were directed to the Mayor and Bailiffs of Chester, and
to the authorities at Shrewsbury for other several quarters of the same
Henry, and to the Abbot of Shrewsbury a writ was addressed directing
him to bury the body of Hotspur, thus again brought together, in his
church of St. Peter at Shrewsbury. The fourth quarter, that sent to
distant London, does not appear to have been forthcoming, for reasons
which will be apparent. See Rev. C. H. Hartshorne’s “Feudal and
Military Antiquities of Northumberland and the Scottish Borders,” p.

[27] “History of Penrith,” 1858, p. 95.

[28] The total number arraigned was 382; by lot this was reduced to
127, the total number condemned to death being 86. Lords Balmerino
and Kilmarnock were beheaded for “the --45,” August 18, 1746. They
behaved with much dignity and fortitude. The former expressed his
wish to Lord Kilmarnock, just before the execution, that he wished he
could suffer for them both; _noblesse oblige_, even on the scaffold.
By their particular request their heads were not severally held up
and exposed by the executioner with the usual formula--“This is the
head of a traitor.” But the sheriffs directed that everybody on the
scaffold should kneel down, so that the people might see the execution
itself performed--a ceremony never practised before. (“Account of the
Behaviour,” &c., by T. Forde, a gentleman then present, 1746.)

[29] De la Croix, “Jersey, Ses Antiquités, Ses Institutions, Son
Histoire,” vol. iii. pp. 342, 343.

[30] Hakluyt, “Voyages,” vol. iii. p. 336.

[31] Weever, “Ancient Funeral Monuments,” p. 22, edit. 1631.

[32] M’Laurin (Lord Dreghorn), “Arguments and Decisions,” &c.,
Edinburgh, 1774.

[33] See “Trial of Philip Standsfield,” &c., Edinburgh, 1688.

[34] See p. 15.

[35] Viollet le Duc, “Dictionnaire raisonné,” tome v. p. 553, s.v.
_Fourches patibulaires_.

[36] “Comptes et Ordinaires de la prévôté de Paris.”

[37] Lacroix, “Mœurs, Usages, et Costumes au Moyen Age,” &c.,
“Pénalité,” p. 455.

[38] “La Repeue faicte auprès de Montfaulcon.” Poetry attributed to
Villon. Edit. Jannet, p. 292. 1854.

[39] “Anciens Fourches Patibulaires,” p. 38.

[40] “Le suicide est une mort furtive et honteuse, c’est un vol fait au
genre humain.”--J. J. ROUSSEAU.

[41] Lithgow’s “Nineteen Years’ Travels,” London, 1682.

[42] Communicated by Mr. F. H. M. Van Lilaar.

[43] “Quand l’Empereur Charles y fit son entrée; les gens de cette
ville-là lui voulurent faire tout l’honneur qu’ils purent. Et faisant
de belle façons d’arcades, chapeaux de triomphes, poiteaux et telles
magnificences, ils s’aviserent d’un pendu qui était à la porte de la
ville et principale entrée. Ils ôtèrent à ce pendu sa chemise sale, et
lui en mirent une blanche pour faire honneur à Monsieur l’Empereur” (Le
Moyen de Parvenir: contenant la raison de tout ce qui a été, est et
sera. Nulle Part., 1000700504, vol. ii. p. 249).

[44] Information from the late Mr. M. H. Bloxam.

[45] Witch-Finder General, under a commission from Parliament in the
reign of Charles I. He hung threescore suspected witches in one year in
Suffolk under most wicked and degrading circumstances.

[46] Rev. S. Baring-Gould, “Yorkshire Oddities,” vol. i. p. 56.

[47] “Notes and Queries,” 1874, vol. i. p. 35. Fifth Series.

[48] It may be recalled that Defoe published, anonymously, in 1725, a
most interesting and vivid account of the conduct, proceedings, and
capture of the pirate Gow and his buccaneer crew.

[49] J. L. Cherry, “Stafford” in Olden Times, p. 80.


    The camel labours with the heaviest load,
    And the wolf dies in silence. Not bestowed
    In vain should such examples be: if they,
    Things of ignoble or of savage mood,
    Endure and shrink not, we, of nobler clay,
    May temper it to bear.”

    “Childe Harold,” iv. 21.

[51] High Treason, as defined by the Statute of 25 Edward III. (1351),
is divided by Blackstone into seven distinct branches. The first is
“compassing or imagining the death of the King, the Queen, or their
eldest son and heir.” 2. “Violating the King’s companion, or the King’s
eldest daughter unmarried, or the wife of the King’s eldest son and
heir.” 3. “Levying war against the King in his realm.” 4. “Adhering
to the King’s enemies in his realm, or elsewhere.” 5. “Counterfeiting
the King’s great or privy seal.” 6. “Counterfeiting the King’s money.”
7. “Slaying the chancellor, treasurer, or any of the King’s justices,
being in their places, doing their offices.” (Blackstone’s, Comm. vol.
iv. p. 76).

Petit Treason is aggravated murder, according to the same Statute; and
may happen in three ways: 1. “By a servant killing his master.” 2.
“By a wife killing her husband.” 3. “By an ecclesiastic killing his
superior.” (Blackstone, _ib._ p. 202).

[52] A Regency of Lords Justices administered the government during the
numerous absences of the King in Hanover.

[53] “Sussex Archæological Collections,” vol. xxiii. p. 215.

[54] “Gentleman’s Magazine,” 1751, p. 186.

[55] Blackstone, “Comm.” vol. iv. p. 202.

[56] Blackstone, “Comm.” vol. iv. p. 202.

[57] Blackstone, “Comm.” vol. iv. p. 202.

[58] Blackstone, “Comm.” vol. iv. p. 202.

[59] Ff. 48, 19, 28, § 15.

[60] _Othello_, Act i. sc. 3.

[61] _King Henry VI._, Part ii. Act iv. sc. 1.

[62] Two sets of pirates’ chains from the Thames are in the collection
of the Rev. J. W. Tottenham.

[63] “Notes and Queries,” 1874, vol. i. p. 35. Fifth Series.

[64] C. A. Markham, “Ancient Punishments in Northamptonshire,” p. 16.

[65] Ibid.

[66] Percy. “Reliques of Ancient English Poetry,” vol. i. p. 306.


    “Ale makes many a man reel over the fallows;
    Ale makes many a man to swear by God and All-Hallows;
    Ale makes many a man to hang upon the gallows--
                              With dole.”

    “Songs and Carols.” Edited by Thomas Wright. Percy Society, 1847.

[68] “History of Penrith,” _ut sup._

[69] “Records of Buckinghamshire,” paper by the Rev. J. C. Wharton,
vol. ii. p. 159.

[70] “Notes and Queries,” 1873, vol. xi. pp. 83, 125. Fourth Series.

[71] “The Pilgrim’s Progress,” chap. iv., Fate of Simple, Sloth, and

[72] “The Antiquary,” Nov., 1890.

[73] C. Madeley, “Obsolete Punishments,” p. 35.

[74] “Rizpah,” _Tennyson_.

[75] Communicated by Mr. C. Madeley.

[76] “Sussex Archæological Collections,” vol. xxiii. pp. 214-5.

[77] _See_ W. Howitt, “The Rural Life of England,” 1838, vol. ii.

[78] _See_ W. Howitt, _ut. sup._

[79] “British Birds,” v. p. 84.

[80] In consequence of the rarity of representations of gibbets, it may
be desirable to mention other examples in the works of Thomas Bewick,
“British Birds,” Edit. 1832, vol. i. In a tailpiece to the account of
the Alpine Vulture, p. 53, a gibbet is shown in the distance. Tailpiece
to the Introduction to the Shrike, p. 74--a moonlight scene, with a
gibbet in the distance; in the foreground a scared old man is terrified
by trees and rocks whose forms assume hob-goblin shapes. Tailpiece
to the account of the Chatterer, p. 105--Satan sits upon a rock,
smoking a pipe, a gibbet in the distance. Tailpiece to the account
of the Whitethroat, p. 261--a gibbet in the distance. “Quadrupeds,”
first Edit., 1790. Tailpiece to the account of the Arctic Fox, p.
274--a gibbet in the distance; in the foreground two boys hanging a
dog. Tailpiece to the account of the Opossum, p. 375--a gibbet in the
distance; in the foreground two boys belabouring a donkey.

[81] “Notes and Queries,” 1872, vol. x. p. 332. Fourth Series.

[82] Ibid., p. 459.


    “There is a dungeon, in whose dim, drear light
      What do I gaze on?...
    An old man and a female young and fair,
      Fresh as a nursing mother, in whose vein
    The blood is nectar.
      Here youth offers to old age the food,
      The milk of his own gift.... It is her sire
    To whom she renders back the debt of
    Drink, drink and live, old man; heaven’s
        realm holds no such tide.”

    “Childe Harold,” iv. st. 148.

[84] There is a very circumstantial story of one Ambrose Gwinnett, who,
according to his own statement, was hung, and hung in chains at Deal in
1709, and came to life again, and escaped to Florida. But, what is more
extraordinary still, he fell in with the very man he was supposed to
have murdered, survived him for many years, and long swept the way at
Charing Cross. The whole thing is in print, and many people are apt to
think that what is “in print” must be true. _See_ “The Life and Strange
Voyages and Uncommon Adventures of Ambrose Gwinnett.” London, 1771.

[85] Pp. 184-5.

[86] C. 4 vers.

[87] The hill called Dane John, near Canterbury.

[88] Hist. MSS. Comm. 9th Report., App. 158, quoted in “Henry VIII. and
the English Monasteries,” p. 260, by F. A. Gasquet.

[89] “I saw also that he looked this way and that way, as if he would
run; yet he stood still, because (as I perceived) he could not tell
which way to go.” (“The Pilgrim’s Progress,” chap. i.)

[90] Sir C. H. J. Anderson, Bt.

[91] Dr. Donnet.

[92] “The Indian Alps,” by A Lady Pioneer, p. 32.

[93] “Notes and Queries,” 1873, vol. x. p. 125. Fourth Series.

[94] _See_ “Proceedings, Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle-on-Tyne,”
iii. pp. 263, 308. Sykes’s “Local Records,” ii. pp. 365,
388.--Information from Mr. R. Blair.

[95] _As You Like It_, Act. ii. sc. 7.

[96] “Notes and Queries,” 1883, vol. viii. p. 394. Sixth Series.

[97] Sir H. E. L. Dryden, Bt.

[98] _Spectator_, No. 159, Sept. 1, 1711.

[99] _King Henry IV._, Part i. Act iv. sc. 2.

[100] _King Lear_, Act v. sc. 3.

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