Thursday, February 7, 2013

1913 - Murder & Execution in Jolly Old England 1683

The Richmond Climax
February 7 1913

Quaint Durham Structure 
Dates back to Saxon Times.
Apart from its Antiquity, 
is interesting to the Tourist 
Through a Peculiarly 
Gruesome Happening
London, England--One of the old and interesting churches of England, dating back to Saxon times, is Kirk Merrington, a strong structure, which crowns a hill in the village of Merrington in Durham county.  The few old, straight-backed oak pews, which it contains, as well as the gargoyles and elves, carved upon the ends of the roof beams, just under the eaves, which look down upon the beholder, some with protruding tongues, others with a hideous grimace, the quaint windows and the general air of antiquity, all tend to throw around the structure that curtain of mystery which infallibly encircles these landmarks of bygone England.

Merrington Kirk is also famous in another respect, for its eaves shelter the tomb of the victims of the last man gibbeted and hanged in chains in the County of Durham. It is inscribed as follows:

Here lies the bodies of
John, Jane and Elisabeth, children of
who were murdered the 28th day of
Jan. 1683,
By Andrew Mills, their Father's servant,
For which he was executed and hung in 
Reader, remember, sleeping
We were slain
And sleep till we must 
Rise again.
"Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man
Shall his blood be shed."
"Thous shalt do no murder."
Restored by subscription in 1798.

As sample of English as it was written toward the close of the seventeenth century and of the involved and confusing method of composition then employed we reprint the following account of the tragedy as set down at the time of the murder, in 1863:

"A sad, cruel murther was committed by a boy about 18 or 19 years of age, nere Ferryhill nere Durham being Thursday night.  The manner is by report, when the parents was out of dores a young man, being sone to the house, and two daughters was kil'd by this boy with an axe having knock'd yin in ye head, afterwards cut their throats, one yin being asleep in ye bed about 10 or 11 years of age, the other daughter was to be married at Candlemas.  After he kil'd the eldest daughter, being about 20 years of age,  a little lafs, her sister, about the age of 11 years, being in bed alone, he drag'd her out of bed, and kil'd her alsoe.  This same Andrew Millus alias Miles, was hanged in irons upon a gybett  nere Ferry hill upon the 15th day of August, being Wednesday, this yeare, 1683."

There is little need of entering futher into the details of this gruesome tragedy.  Millus, or Miles, who said that the devil had told him to commit the crimes, was seized by troopers and after trial was gibbeted in chains on a common, by the roadside, near Ferryville.  A tradition, let us hope untrue, exists to the effect that he revived after the gibbeting and lived in awful torture for several days, being in the meantime fed by his sweetheart.  A portion of the gibbet on which he was hanged stood for many years afterward, until a belief grew up that it possessed a charm for the toothache, when the people ate it piecemeal.

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