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The hanging of Spence Broughton (Noose and Gibbet)


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Sheffield History

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The notorious Spence Broughton was a highwayman who was arrested and sentenced to death after robbing a mail boy delivering the post to Sheffield and Rotherham.

He was sentenced at York Castle and the judge, who wanted to make an example of him, ordered his body to be gibbeted on the site where the robbery took place and so the corpse of Spence Broughton was on show on a raised platform on Attercliffe Common for 36 years before being buried.

Weston Park Museum had the metal shackles and belt thought to be part of Spence Broughton’s gibbet chains on display and a spokesperson for Sheffield Museums said: “ Robbing the mail was a Robbing mail coaches was a serious crime, as the postal service was the main means of communication across the country. As well as letters, the post also delivered money and ‘Bills of Exchange’ which were used to transfer large amounts of money by businesses and individuals.”

The crime took place in early 1791 at Ickles, on the Rotherham edge of Attercliffe Common. Broughton and his accomplice John Oxley stayed in Sheffield the night before the robbery and then walked out of the town on the Rotherham road where they met the mail coming towards Sheffield. However, they intended to rob it on its way back to Rotherham so they lay in wait for it to arrive.

On 4 February 1791, the Sheffield Register reported: “On Saturday night last the post-boy going between this place and Rotherham, was stopped within one mile of the town by a footpad, and robbed of the mail-bag containing the letters for that place and neighbourhood. The villain was dressed in flannel and had a white cap upon his head. He dragged the boy from off his horse, tied his hands and feet, and bound his eyes with a handkerchief.” Broughton and Oxley escaped towards Mansfield. On their way they went through the contents of the post bag and found that the only item of value was a French bill of exchange worth £123; they disposed of the rest of the contents in a brook and parted, with Oxley proceeding to London to cash the bill.

Clara Morgan, Curator of Social History, for Weston Park’s most macabre exhibit said: “Later that year, a man named John Oxley was caught after robbing the Cambridge mail. He admitted to two more robberies – the Sheffield and Rotherham Mail and the Aylesbury Mail – and implicated Spence Broughton and Thomas Shaw in the crimes. All three were arrested.”

In court in London, Shaw gave evidence against his accomplices and played down his own role in the robberies in order to escape conviction. Oxley also avoided prosecution, escaping from prison before the trial. This left Broughton to stand trial alone, charged with robbery of the Sheffield and Rotherham mail.

The trial took place at York Castle in March 1792, with Thomas Shaw as a witness for the prosecution. Broughton was found guilty of Highway Robbery, sentenced to death, and executed in April of the same year. However, as an example to others, the court also ordered that ‘thereafter the Execution of Spence Broughton, his Body be hung in chains, on a Gibbet to be erected on some conspicuous spot on Attercliffe Common, in the County of York, on the South of the Road leading from Sheffield to Rotherham, not less than Three Hundred Yards from the Road’.

 

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Clara said: “The display of Broughton’s body drew great public interest, with over 40,000 people said to have seen his corpse in the first few days of its arrival at Attercliffe Common. The gibbet was made up of a cage on a high scaffold, with Broughton’s body strapped in and left to decompose. The gibbet was to remain on show for 36 years, becoming a macabre local landmark.

“In 1827 the gibbet was taken down, and Broughton’s remains were buried in a churchyard in Darnall. However, Spence Broughton is still remembered in Sheffield today. The Noose and Gibbet pub on Broughton Lane, Attercliffe takes its name from the events.”

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Sheffield History

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Artists Impression of Attercliffe Common at the close of the 18th Century, near Greenland Engine Road (now Broughton Lane), buildings shown are the Arrow Inn, now pulled down, the Pheasant Inn and Carbrook Hall and gibbet post of Spence Broughton

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Sheffield History

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The last dying speech and confession of Spence Broughton, John Lucas, Thomas Stearman, Joseph Brearly, and Thomas Crawshaw, who were executed to-day at Tyburn near York. The original copy is stored in Sheffield Library Archive

February 9 1791 along John Oxley robbed the Sheffield to Rotherham Postboy and stole the postbag containing a Bill of Exchange for payable to Joseph Walker of Rotherham. Broughton was executed at York Tyburn and gibbeted at the scene of his crime where his remains hung for 36 years.

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Sheffield History

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Transporting a model (to represent Spence Broughton) of a hanging man in a gibbet to the Noose and Gibbet pub on Broughton Lane

Noose and Gibbet (formerly Stadium P.H. originally Railway Hotel), after highwayman Spence Broughton who in 1791 was tried at York and gibbetted near the scene of his crime near the junction with Attercliffe Common, his body hung their for 27 years. Supposedly the hand on show in the pub is his. 

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The Noose and Gibbet Inn

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History dude

I have seen in a book Peter Harvey saying that Broughton Lane was NOT named after him. He reckoned that it was from the Duke of Norfolk's family. They did own the land in question. It would seem unlikely that one hanged man would give the street it's name, even if he was hanging there for some time. 

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Sheffield History
6 minutes ago, History dude said:

I have seen in a book Peter Harvey saying that Broughton Lane was NOT named after him. He reckoned that it was from the Duke of Norfolk's family. They did own the land in question. It would seem unlikely that one hanged man would give the street it's name, even if he was hanging there for some time. 

 

I need to learn more on this, as at first glance it would seem that it was, but like you say that would be a really strange person to celebrate in such a way

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History dude

I believe I remember reading it in Peter's book on street names of Sheffield.

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tozzin

Part of the gibbet were found in the backyard of the Yellow Lion when it was being demolished, can’t recall the year.

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LeadFarmer
2 hours ago, tozzin said:

Part of the gibbet were found in the backyard of the Yellow Lion when it was being demolished, can’t recall the year.

Would that have been the Yellow Lion on Haymarket?

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deejayone
4 hours ago, History dude said:

I have seen in a book Peter Harvey saying that Broughton Lane was NOT named after him. He reckoned that it was from the Duke of Norfolk's family. They did own the land in question. It would seem unlikely that one hanged man would give the street it's name, even if he was hanging there for some time. 

It wasn't - that was coincidence!

4 hours ago, tozzin said:

Part of the gibbet were found in the backyard of the Yellow Lion when it was being demolished, can’t recall the year.

It was indeed. And was there for a while (long gone now though).

2 hours ago, LeadFarmer said:

Would that have been the Yellow Lion on Haymarket?

No, The Yellow Lion was on Clifton Street from memory.

 

Contrary to popular belief, the hanging wasn't by where the Noose and Gibbet is now, it was around the corner set back from Attercliffe Road - around where Clifton Street is now, near/opposite the junction of Lynn Place from the best I can make out.

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deejayone

Discovery of Spence Broughton's Gibbet

The remains of the Gibbet-post of Spence Broughton, who was hung in irons on Attercliffe Common after being executed at York for the robbery of the Sheffield and Rotherham Postman, have this week been dug out of the ground.

It is solid old oak, perfectly black and quite sound, though embedded in the ground since 1792. It consists of a MASSIVE framework, 10ft. long and 1ft. deep, firmly embedded in the ground to support the Gibbet-post, which passed through it's centre and was bolted to it. Some 4ft. 6in. of this post is left, the remainder of the post is 18in square.

This relic was discovered by a person named Holroyd, in making excavations for the cellars of some houses in Clifton Street, Attercliffe Common, opposite the "Red Lion". It was conveyed into the garden of that Inn, where it may now be seen.

Many hundreds of persons have paid it a visit.

Source: Times Newspaper 6th May, 1867

More in an old thread here: 

 

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deejayone

I've researched quite a bit (some time ago) and am happy to be corrected...

Here is where I believe the Gibbet to have been (red circle area-ish)... in fact the Surgipack UK pin on the map is handily very much about the spot I suspect it was at (well, around there anyway). The blue circle is the Noose and Gibbet pub.

Gibbet.png

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tozzin

The Noose and Gibbet was just a bit of clever marketing, it was just a theme pub, unfortunately people believed it was where Spence Broughton was left on the gibbet, nobody really corrected that train of thought, I mean the stories sold beer.

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Sheffield History
1 hour ago, tozzin said:

The Noose and Gibbet was just a bit of clever marketing, it was just a theme pub, unfortunately people believed it was where Spence Broughton was left on the gibbet, nobody really corrected that train of thought, I mean the stories sold beer.



yeah definitely


I was one who believed/thought it till I read this thread 

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Edmund
22 hours ago, History dude said:

I have seen in a book Peter Harvey saying that Broughton Lane was NOT named after him. He reckoned that it was from the Duke of Norfolk's family. They did own the land in question. It would seem unlikely that one hanged man would give the street it's name, even if he was hanging there for some time. 

To me, it seems a coincidence too far that the body of a man named Broughton would happen to be gibbeted near a lane (in the middle of nowhere, and until about 1854 called Greenland Engine Lane) also to be called Broughton.  The body was a tourist attraction for many years, and would warrant a roadway to be named after it. Forty thousand people went there on the first day the body was in place. No-one called Broughton was allocated any of the common land enclosed by the 1810-20 Inclosure Act, though the Duke of Norfolk did get an allocation.

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History dude

Edmund -  the Gibbet wasn't on Broughton Lane. It was on Clifton Street. If you are going to name a street after someone you would name it that, not Clifton.  And guess what that comes from?  Here's the answer: Henry Howard, 6th Duke of Norfolk Gervase Clifton, 1st Baron Clifton.

The Duke of Norfolk's own family has Broughton in it. His family names are all over Sheffield. The street names have often no connection with any member of the Norfolk family being there. They were just named because the Duke was mayor or some other reason to give a street another aristocratic name.

It's like thinking Savile Street is somehow connected to Jimmy Savile.  

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Edmund

Clifton street was named after Henry Clifton Sorby (the microscopist and geologist of Woodbourne House, Attercliffe) who previously owned the land.  He sold much of his land to a local land society.  His father, also Henry Sorby, had been allocated 3 plots of land (plots 73,74, 75) under the Inclosure Act , to the value of £183 2s 0d. Charles Pickering, who worked at one of the nearby collieries, built the first house on Clifton Street himself in about 1855, for Gregory Nance (a shoemaker) and named the street after the previous owner of the land.  The second house was built for James Lane who kept cows on the Common.  The third house on Clifton Street was a two roomed cottage built by Mr Pickering, called Sunderland View (after its view of the Sunderland Colliery). Some years after it was built, Mr Pickering himself lived in it and adding another storey, turned it into an inn.  As the "Arrow" had closed years before, this new inn had good business.  Pickering called it the "Yellow Lion" , after his erstwhile favourite inn in Sheffield, the "Yellow Lion" in the Haymarket.

Note that the gibbet was originally built on moorland, but after Inclosure found itself twenty yards from a hedge in a field near to the Turnpike. There were no streets in the vicinity, but in due course the hedge would be removed to create Pickering street. In the autumn of 1827 Henry Clifton Sorby (the landowner) had the gibbet cut down, as sightseers were causing damage to hedges and ditches.

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Edmund

On 4th September 1817 Fairbanks surveyed Attercliffe Common, with the intention of showing the Duke of Norfolk's allotments under the enclosure award. The top of the map is north east.  Bradley Nook Road is now Coleridge Road, and Greeland Engine Road is Broughton Lane.The two unnamed roads each side of the canal are Manningham Road and Tinsley Park Road. Broughton's body has been sketched by Fairbanks as he saw it at the bottom of the mapped area.

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Sheffield History

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Throwing this one into the mix here, showing The Arrow Inn

First time I've heard mention of The Arrow Inn in Sheffield

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