yorkshire history THE HALIFAX GIBBET
 

THE HALIFAX GIBBET

 

“There is a Proverbe, and a prayer withall,
That we may not to these strange places fall,
From Hull, from Halifax, from Hell, ‘tis thus,
From all these three, Good Lord deliver us.
This praying proverb’s meaning to set down,
Men do not wish deliverance from the Town:
The towns named Kingston, Hull’s furious River:
And from Hull’s dangers, I say Lord deliver.
At Halifax, the law so sharp doth deal,
That whoso more than 13 Pence doth steal,
They have a jyn* that wondrous quick and well,
Sends thieves all headless unto Heav’n or Hell.
From Hell each man says, Lord deliver me,
Because from Hell can no redemption be:
Men may escape from Hull and Halifax,
But sure in Hell there is a heavier tax,
Let each one for themselves in this agree,
And pray, from Hell good Lord deliver me.”

 

Works of John Taylor
The Water Poet, whose works extended from 1612 to 1653.
* jin or gin, an abbreviation for engine.

 

The so-called Beggar’s Litany has been explained in the Crowther’s Encyclopaedia of Phrases and Origins, 1945 ed., thus:  “From Hull, Hell, and Halifax good Lord deliver us; and it might well be so, for in Hull in those days was so well governed in vagrancy laws, that beggars had little chance of acquiring sustenance by begging without doing hard labour for it; and anyone caught stealing property to the value of thirteen-pence-halfpenny in Halifax was hanged; Hell of cause, speaks for its self.”  This is a gross error; the thieves so caught at Halifax were not hanged, but were beheaded on a machine called the Halifax Gibbet, a precursor of that evil tool of Revolutionary France, the guillotine. 

 

The origins of the Halifax Gibbet Law are shrouded by the mists of time.  Some say that the law dated from before the Conquest of 1066, but as the township was not recorded in Domesday (1086), then unless there had existed some relic of Saxon rule, this has to be discounted.  Others argue that it originated during the reign of king John 1199 – 1216, but present little in the way of hard evidence.  One John of Dalton however, was beheaded on the gibbet in the year 1286, and as he is the first so recorded, it seems probable that it is from this time that the Gibbet originated.  Bentley’s ‘Halifax and its Gibbet Law’, p 24, says that the custom dated from “time immemorial”, which does not help from an historical standpoint.  It has been argued with some conviction that it was as a result of permissions granted to the earl of the then manor, John de Warren earl of Surrey by king Henry III, in 1286, the same year as the unfortunate Dalton met his fate, that the manorial court had the right to execute anyone caught stealing woollen cloth, then known as the Staple because of its value to the realm.  This, combined with ‘ancient custom’, became the Halifax Gibbet Law, maybe more as a deterrent, but as with all such deterrents, their use has to be demonstrated from time to time to make them effective.

 

The region to which the law applied was postulated as being “within the said Liberty, which Liberty comprised the townships and hamlets of Halifax, Ovenden, Illingworth, Mixenden, Bradshaw, Skircoat, Warley, Sowerby, Rishworth, Luddenham, Midgley, Erringden, Heptounstall (sic), Rottenstall, Stansfield, Cross-sto**, and Langfield, to which Wright in his ‘Antiquities of Halifax’ adds Wadsworth, because this, as well as all the above named places, was included within the estates of the earls of Warren, and one of the berewiks belonging to the manor of Wakefield, to which manor, with its appendages, this power was originally given.  And for the same reason Mr. Watson thinks that some other parts of this vast lordship which lie in the neighbourhood of Halifax, such as Northouram and Rastrick, should have been taken into the list; but we do not find any authority to support his opinion, which therefore rests solely on the basis of probability.  From comparing this list with the former enumeration of townships and hamlets, it will be perceived, that the Forest of Hardwick, which appears to be the same with the Forest of Sowerby, lay nearly, although not exactly, within the same precincts as the present parish of Halifax.”   From this it becomes apparent that the jurisdiction of the Halifax Gibbet Law extended to include the parish of Halifax, rather than only the town its self.

 

“The History of the Town and Parish of Halifax …..”, a volume catalogued by the British Library as dating from 1789, a very rare history printed by E. Jacob in Halifax, states that “The inhabitants within the Forest of Hardwick, being a mixed people of freeholders and copyholders, all of them subject to the Lord of the Manor of Wakefield, formerly the inheritance of the King of England, and is still part of the Duchy of Lancaster, which was sometime the inheritance of the earl of Warren, &c. but now the inheritance of his Grace the Duke of Leeds, &c. Have, and do claim by the usage and continuance of time, since when is not in the memory of man to the contrary, as was acknowledged in the Days of King Philip and Queen Mary, who have by their statutes of the second and 3rd of their reigns, confirmed unto them from their usage, custom and freedom, to buy and sell wool by retail, in order to the carrying on of that manufacture, which gave an occasion to the encouraging custom.  That if a felon be taken within their liberty, with goods stolen out or within the liberty or precincts of the said forest, either Hand-habend, Back-berand, or confess and cloth, or any other commodity of the value of thirteen-pence half penny, that they shall, after three markets, or meeting days, within the town of Halifax, next after such his apprehension, and being condemned, he shall be taken to the Gibbet, and there have his head cut off his body.”  The archaic phraseology contained herein sounds remarkable to modern English usage, but basically, the three conditions for the use of the Gibbet were:
hand-habendhaving his hand in, or being found in the very act of stealing.” 
back-berandthat is, having the thing stolen, either upon his back, or somewhere else about him, carrying it away..”
confessand simply means having confessed to the crime.

 

The first contemporary account of the Halifax Gibbet Law comes down to us from the Chronicles of Holinshed, who in his Description of England, 1577, said of the Law thus:

Witches are hanged or sometimes burned, but thieves are hanged (as I said before) generally on the gibbet or gallows, saving in Halifax where they are beheaded after a strange manner, and whereof I find this report.  There is and hath been of ancient time a law or rather a custom at Halifax, that who so ever doth commit any felony, and is taken with the same, or confess the fact upon examination; if it be valued by four constables to amount to the sum of thirteen pence half penny, he is forthwith beheaded upon one of the next market days (which fall usually upon the Tuesdays, Thursdays, & Saturdays) or else upon the same day that he is so convicted, if market then be holden.  The engine wherewith the execution is done, is a square block of wood of the length of four foot and a half, which doth ride by and down in a slot, rabbet, or regall (sic) between two pieces of timber, that are framed and set upright of five yards in height.  In the nether end of the sliding block is an axe keyed or fastened with an iron into the wood, which being drawn up to the top of the frame is there fastened by a wooden pin (with a notch made into the same after the manner of a Sampson post) unto the middest of which pin also there is a long rope fastened that cometh down among the people, so that when the offender hath made his confession, and hath laid his neck over the nethermost block, every man there present doth either take hold of the rope (or putteth  forth his arm so near to the same as he can get, in token that he is willing to see true justice executed) and pulling out the pin in this manner, the head block wherein the axe is fastened doth fall down with such violence, that if the neck of the transgressor were so big as that of a bull, it should be cut in sunder at a stroke, and roll from the body by an huge distance.  If it be so that the offender be apprehended for an ox, oxen, sheep, kine (sic), horse, or any such cattle; the self beast or other of the same kind shall have the end of the rope tied somewhere unto them, so that they being driven do draw out the pin whereby the offender is executed.  Thus much of Halifax law, which I set down only to show the custom of that country in this behalf.”

See http://dewey.library.upenn.edu/sceti/AdvancedSearch.cfm for facsimile edition of Holinshed’s works in full.  Here the spelling of the passage has been updated, but the syntax and punctuation are from the original.

Holinshed, who was the source for much in the historical plays by William Shakespeare, paints a vivid picture, and has become often THE source in such matters for Victorian antiquarians.  His chronicles though, are at best, variable in their veracity, and require verification, and while Holinshed’s account matches extra-ordinarily well with the 1789 History, it is hard to tell from this point in time just how much of the History was acquired from Holinshed.  However, the official history continues in great detail to explain the custom, and it is from that work that the bulk of the following derives, often as direct quotes.  John Leland, the geographer of England, who predated Holinshed by fifty years, sadly makes no mention or either Halifax or its customs, an omission only he could be asked to answer.  

The 1789 history of the Gibbet, and its Law continues to say concerning the procedure of the law:

When the felon is first apprehended, he is forthwith brought unto the Lord’s Bailiff in Halifax, who be virtue of the authority granted unto him from the Lord of the Manor of Wakefield, under the particular seal appertaining to that manor, who here keeps a common goal (sic - or gaol) in the said town, and doth receive the prisoner, and him there detains in arcta et salva custodiain strict and safe custody - for he hath also the keeping of the axe, and is to be his executioner at the Gibbet, when condemned, in order whereunto, at the complaint of the prosecutors, the Bailiff forthwith issues out his summons to the constables of four several towns, within the said precincts, to require four Frith Burghers within each town, as members of the said Forest, to appear before him, at, or upon a day certain, that then and there they make a jury to examine such matters of fact as shall be alleged, and made manifest before them.

At which, their time of appearance, both the felons and prosecutors, are brought before them face to face, and the thing stolen produced to their view, if it be beast or horse, or any thing of that kind; but if that thing be portable, it is laid before them in the room, where they are assembled together; and if upon examination they do find that the said felon is not only guilty of the goods stolen, and lying, or being in their view, but also do find the value of the goods stolen, to be of thirteen pence halfpenny (old money = 6p current money), or above, then is the felon found guilty by the said jury; grounding that their verdict upon the evidence of the goods stolen and lying before them, together with his own confession, which, in such cases, is always required; and being so found guilty, is by them condemned to be beheaded, according to ancient custom.”  It is a curiosity that a confession was required before the ultimate sentence was passed.  One has to wonder how such a confession was obtained.  Mention is made of ‘examination’, but none is made of torture, however, it would seem reasonable that in the face of such sentence, a confession was not usually freely given.  The narrative continues:

But if upon examination and consideration had of the whole matter, they do not find the accused to be guilty of the felony, the jury acquits him, her, or them; and the party or parties so accused, is presently set at liberty, upon payment of his, her, or their fees.”  Here again, it would seem unjustifiable that those so found to be innocent of the alleged crimes, should have to pay their own fees prior to being released, indeed, the payment of such fees was it seems, a condition of their release.

But when a felon is found guilty, and so pronounced, published, and declared by the jury, the Bailiff immediately thereupon returns him back again into prison, for the space of one week, or thereabouts; not only that he may have time to prepare himself for his latter end, but also to expose him openly to the world, for the reason following.  There being, as hath been said before, three meetings or markets days in Halifax every week, for all the traffic in all sorts of commodities, saving cloth, which is bought and sold on the Saturdays; on every such meeting day, the felon is set in the public stocks, and either upon his back, if the thing stolen be portable, or if not, then upon his face the goods are so placed, that they may be noted by all passengers: thus is done in terror to others, that they may take warning by such wicked deeds, never to commit the like.”  This last demonstrates the deterrent factor of the Law, and as familiar as people were then to the spectacle of public execution, the act of beheading was viewed as being a particularly uncommon event, usually reserved for people found guilty of treason, and beheaded by the more usual axeman.

Having already given in an abstract by what power the Bailiff summons the jury, and after what manner they proceed against the felon, together with the issue that befalls both the innocent and guilty felons.  Nothing is further remaining to be spoken on that occasion, but to give a short narrative how far this law is compulsory to the prosecutors. And thus it is.

This custom doth require that every man who hath goods stolen within the liberty (of Halifax), and shall secretly, without making any public report thereof, by his own industry, or by additional help of some private friend and neighbours, hath not only discovered the felon, but secured the goods, he must not, by any underhand, or private contract, receive his goods back again without prosecuting the felon; but he is, by this customary law, bound and obliged to bring the felon, together with what goods he hath stolen, to some of the Lord’s Bailiffs, within the Manor of Wakefield, who presently sends away the felon, and the things stolen, to the chief bailiff in Halifax, and there, before the prosecutor can get his goods again, he must prosecute the felon according to ancient custom; otherwise if he refuse to prosecute, he will not only forfeit his goods to the Lord, but run the danger of being accused of theft-boot, for his private connivance and agreement with the felon.  Thus, and according to this manner, is the prosecutor compelled by this law to pursue the felon, and this way of preventing underhand practices and collusions, gives great encouragement as well as security to all tradesmen against all manner of felonious practices.”  In other words, this would seem to mean that if a felon was taken with stolen goods in his possession, and was dealt with privately by the victim, and if such victim was later discovered to have done so, then he was as good as accused of being, in today’s parlance, an accessory to the original crime.  Always provided that everyone within the Liberty was well aware of this stricture, then it would have ensured that justice as per this law was administered in a proper manner, according to ancient custom. This account of the Halifax Gibbet Law fails to describe the means by which such an execution was effected sadly, and it is to other works that we must rely upon for that information.  One antiquarian history of Yorkshire however does contain such information:

When the condemned felon was brought to the gibbet, which stood a little way out of the town at the west end, the bailiff, the person who had found the verdict, and the attending clergyman, placed themselves on the scaffold with the prisoner (Bentley’s Halifax and Gibbet Law).  The fourth psalm was then played round the scaffold on the bagpipes (not then exclusive to Scotland and Ireland), after which the minister prayed with the prisoner till he received the fatal stroke (Wright’s Hist. Halifax, p.202).  The execution was performed by means of an engine similar to the guillotine lately erected in France.  It consisted of two upright posts, or pieces of timber, fifteen feet high, joined at the top by a transverse beam: within these was a square block of wood of the length of four feet and a half, which moved up and down between the uprights by means of grooves made for that purpose: to the lower end of this sliding block was fastened an iron axe, of the weight 7lb 12 ounces (any conversions to metric can be done elsewhere, when this axe was in use, there was no such thing as metric measurement).  The axe thus fixed, was drawn up to the top by a cord and pulley.  At the end of the cord was a pin, which, being fixed to the block, kept it suspended till the moment of execution, when by pulling out the pin, or cutting the cord, it was suffered to fall, and the criminal’s head was instantly severed from his body.  The (means) of this proceeding has been differently described, Harrison says that every person present took hold of the rope, or at least stretched forth his arm as near to it as he could, in token of his approbation, and that the pin was pulled out in this manner; but if the offender was condemned for stealing an ox, sheep, horse, &tc, the end of the rope was fastened to the beast, which being driven, pulled out the pin.  (Did Harrison get this from Holinshed, as the account is virtually identical?)  Camden informs us, that if this was not performed by the beast, the bailiff, or his servant, cut the rope; with which Bentley’s representation of the matter agrees.  From these descriptions of the Halifax gibbet, it evidently appears that the French guillotine is not, as has been vulgarly believed, a recent invention.  The Halifax engine was as nearly as probable of the same construction, and its operation was equally certain and instantaneous.”  (There is a foot note here which states “It appears from a plate in an edition of Hollinshed’s Chronicle, printed in 1577, that beheading criminals by a machine something like that at Halifax was practiced in some other parts of England.”)


 

A          The scaffold
B          The stock of the axe
C       The axe
D  The pulley by which it is drawn up
F   The pin that holds the suspending cord
L  The stage where the Criminal is laid with his neck on the block


From records, it has been possible to collate a register of those executed at the gibbet, this list borrowed from http://www.metaphor.dk/guillotine/Pages/gibbet.html I hope with their approbation. 


1286 John of Dalton
15th January 1539 Charles Haworth
20th March 1541 Richard Beverley of Sowerby
1st January 1542 Unidentified stranger
16th September 1544 John Brigg of Heptonstall
31st March 1545 John Ecoppe of Elland
5th December 1545 Thomas Waite of Northowram
6th March 1568 Richard Sharpe of Northowram
ditto John Learoyd of Northowram
9th October 1572 Will Cockere
9th January 1572 John Atkinson
ditto Nicholas Frear
ditto Richard Garnet
19th May 1574 Richard Stopforth
12th February 1574 James Smith of Sowerby
3rd November 1576 Henry Hunt
6th February 1576 Robert Bairstow alias Fearnside
6th January 1578 John Dickenson of Bradford
16th March 1578 John Waters
15th October 1580 Bryan Casson
19th February 1581 John Appleyard of Halifax
7th February 1582 John Sladen
17th January 1585 Arthur Firth
4th October 1586 John Duckworth
27th May 1587 Nicholas Hewitt of Northowram
ditto Thomas Mason (Vagrant)
13th July 1588 The wife of Thomas Roberts of Halifax
5th April 1589 Robert Wilson of Halifax
21st December 1591 Peter Crabtree of Sowerby
6th January 1591 Bernard Sutcliffe of Northowram
23rd September 1602 Abraham Stancliffe of Halifax
22nd February 1602 The wife of Peter Harrison of Bradford
29th December 1610 Christopher Cosin
10th April 1611 Thomas Brigg
19th July 1623 [?] Sutcliffe
23rd December 1623 George Fairbank
ditto Anna Fairbank, daughter of George Fairbank
29th January 1623 John Lacy of Halifax (He escaped from the execution, but returned 7 years later where he was caught and executed immediately)
8th April 1624 Edmund Ogden of Lancashire
13th April 1624 Richard Midgley of Midgley
5th July 1627 The wife of John Wilson of Northowram
8th December 1627 Sarah Lum of Halifax
14th May 1629 John Sutcliffe of Skircote
20th October 1629 Richard Hoyle of Heptonstall
28th August 1630 Henry Hudson
ditto The wife of Samuel Ettall
14th April 1632 Jeremy Bowcock of Warley
22nd September 1632 John Crabtree of Sowerby
21st May 1636 Abraham Clegg of Norland
7th October 1641 Isaac Illingworthof Ogden
7th June 1645 Jer. Kaye Taylor of Lancashire
30th December 1648 (sic) – should read April 1650 Jo. Wilkinson of Sowerby
ditto Anthony Mitchell

 

Regarding the final two names in the above list or register, those of John Wilkinson and Anthony Mitchell, the same 1789 history provides us with an account of their trial, which may be of interest. 

About the latter end of April, Ann. Dom. 1650, Abraham Wilkinson, John Wilkinson and Anthony Mitchell, were apprehended within the Manor of Wakefield and the Liberties of Halifax, for divers felonious practices, and brought, or caused to be brought into the custody of the chief bailiff of Halifax, in order to have their trials for acquittal or condemnation, according to the custom of the forest of Hardwick.  Wilkinson, of Sowerby, within the liberty of Halifax, being apprehended and taken; that he the said Abraham Wilkinson, took the cloth in the information mentioned, with the assistance of his brother John Wilkinson, from off the tenter of Samuel Colbeck, in Wharley; being sixteen yards of russet coloured kersey, nine yards at the least thereof, being brought before us, with the prisoner; the said Samuel Colbeck doth affirm to be his own cloth, and part of the sixteen yards aforesaid, and is so confessed to be by the prisoner; which nine yards we do value and apprise to be worth nine shillings at the least.

To the complaint and information of John Cusworth, &c.

We, the aforesaid impanneled jury, do find, by the free confession of Anthony Mitchell, that John Wilkinson did take the black colt of John Cusworth’s, from Durker Green, and that himself and Abraham Wilkinson was there present at the same time; and also that Anthony Mitchell himself did sell the aforesaid colt to Simeon Helliwell, near Hepton-Brigg, for forty-eight shillings, whereof he received in part twenty seven shillings, and we do apprise and value the same colt to be worth forty-eight shillings; likewise, we do find, by the confession of the aforesaid Anthony Mitchell, that Abraham Wilkinson did take the grey colt of Paul Johnson’s, from off Durker Green aforesaid, and that John Wilkinson was with his brother Abraham Wilkinson, when he took him, and that the said Anthony Mitchell was by and present when Abraham Wilkinson did stay and bridle the grey colt: also he confesseth, that himself and John Wilkinson did leave the said colt with George Harrison, of Norland, which colt we have seen, and do value and apprise him at three pounds.

The determinate sentence.

The prisoners, that is to say Abraham Wilkinson, and Anthony Mitchell, being apprehended within the liberty of Halifax, and brought before us, with nine yards of cloth, as aforesaid, and the two colts above mentioned; which cloth we apprise to nine shillings, and the black colt to forty-eight shillings, and the grey colt to three pounds; all which aforesaid being feloniously taken from the abovesaid persons, and found with the said prisoners.

By the ancient custom and liberty of Halifax, whereof the memory of man is not to the contrary, the said Abraham Wilkinson and Anthony Mitchell, are to suffer death, by having their heads severed and cut from their bodies, at Halifax Gibbet, unto which verdict we subscribe our names, the thirteenth of April, one thousand six hundred and fifty.

James Holland
Richard Niccols
Isaac Hooker
John Exley
Francis Priestley
Henry Ryley
James Dobson
Joseph Priestley
John Ryalls
Michael Wood
John Holdsworth
Henry Mirriel
James Whitaker
James Ellison
Anthony Waterhouse
Thomas Gill

 

 After this, the said Abraham Wilkinson and Anthony Mitchell were the same day, (because it was Saturday, or the great market) conducted to the said gibbet, and there executed in the usual form.” 

There were however a couple of methods of escape from this punitive judgement. In one, it depended much, I fear, on chance slightly delaying the drop of the axe, at which point if the prisoner was quick enough, he could make a run for it.  This assumes that there was no means of securing the prisoner’s head to the block, as was not the case with the later French guillotine.  Provided the prisoner was able to escape from the dropping block, he then had to make a dash for the boundary of the liberty, which in the case of the north, it was but a distance of 600 paces, while that to the south it was about a mile, on the west about 10 miles, and once a prisoner had crossed the boundary, there was no legal means by which he could be brought back.  If however, during his lifetime, he dared to venture back into the liberty, and if recognised, he could be taken once more, and put to the gibbet, as in the case of one John Lacy.  He spent seven years outside of the liberty before making a return, but he was apprehended, and subsequently executed, on the original verdict, in the year 1623.  The other method of escaping the gibbet it seems, was simply to refuse to confess, and provided the goods were not found in the possession of the alleged felon, then by the Law, he had to be acquitted.  Having said that, the act of committing perjury was more of a sin than the prospect of death was frightening, for perjury was then a sin against God, and God was the ultimate judge on a man’s fate, whether he was destined for Heaven or Hell, which might account for why so many climbed the stone steps to the block.

The execution of Wilkinson and Mitchell were the last to occur on the Halifax engine, the year of their deaths may be a significant reason, 1650 was but a year after the beheading of king Charles I in 1649, but also, the English Civil War was at its height, and it remains a possibility that Puritan Parliamentary influences, were enough to, if not exactly repeal the Law, then at the very least, ignore it.  What ever the reason, after 1650, the gibbet engine was allowed to rot where it stood, on the scaffold of Gibbet Lane, upon the stone dressed platform and its stone steps, whereupon so many had lost their heads.

 

In 1974, a non-working full size replica of the Halifax gibbet was erected upon the original stone clad base where it remained until April 2003, when an outbreak of vandalism dictated the necessity for dismantling the replica.   Some rot at the base of the replica also assisted in the bringing down of the Gibbet, which on reflection might have been the safest option, to the safety conscious.  The allegedly original axe-head survives, and is preserved within the Pre-Industrial Museum, in the Halifax Piece Hall.

 

 

Addendum

It has been brought to my notice by David and Marian Griffith that the replica gibbet is in the process of being resurrected (Summer 2004), on the original platform once again.  A plaque has been added on which is inscribed the names of the co-sponsors of the project “W M Shopfitters; James Chambers; Calderdale Leisure Services.  It is an embarrassment that it was not felt appropriate to add some history to the advertising, there are no dates; there is not even a mention as to what the engine is – or was.   Not wishing to be political, but what a SHAME!! 

After consultation with David and Marian, regarding whether the original gibbet engine would have stood out in all weathers for a couple or more centuries, this now appears to be very doubtful.  Whilst there are at present no documents confirming or otherwise this situation, research undertaken in Halifax suggests that the engine was in general in a state of being dismantled, and was only rebuilt for executions and in times of economic or civil unrest, such as the English Civil War.  It seems strange but likely therefore that some generations of Halifaxians(?) never saw the gibbet erected, while others lived within its threatening shadow for years.  It has been said that some license has been used in recreating the gibbet, especially regarding the height of the structure.  Curiously no-one seems to have read Holinshed, who distinctly states that “It consisted of two upright posts, or pieces of timber, fifteen feet high, joined at the top by a transverse beam:”(see above).  This does not at first glance seem high enough for the axe to perform its duty, but, when the weight of the large timber block to which the axe was fitted is taken into consideration, the down force must have been more than sufficient to detach a head from a body.  David and Marian’s hands on inspection of the axe head describes the blade as “completely bunt”, and for the gory in mind, they said there was NO discernable traces of blood remaining on it.  The prospect of a blunt blade makes the engine I think even more daunting.  Not only was the poor victim to have his head severed, but it was not even to be done cleanly, it was to be squeezed off.  A matter of milliseconds maybe, but just how long did those milliseconds seem at that instant in time.  Time – as they say – is relative!

One final question still remains:  was the victim placed on the gibbet face up or face down?  Face up and they could watch the axe falling – face down and they would only hear it falling!

 

 

Designed by Richard Hayton 2006
email richard@yorkshirehistory.com