Author Topic: South Tyneside - January 2019 Branch Report  (Read 1012 times)

Offline Annf

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South Tyneside - January 2019 Branch Report
« on: February 03, 2019, 05:23:33 PM »
The speaker at the meeting held on Wednesday 16th January 2019 was Susan Lynn whose talk 'Tales from the Dark Side' gave us a fascinating insight into the more macabre side of Newcastle going back to medieval times.

The building of the first fortified wall around the town of Newcastle began in 1265 and one of the sites for hangings was located at the West Gate.  Bodies were either hung on the giblets near the gate or were taken away for dissection by the barber surgeons.  Should the incumbent of the hangman's noose have money, and as a way of hastening death, then they could pay someone to 'hold on to their feet'.  It is from this the term 'hangers on' was derived.

There are several recorded hangings or beheadings for Newcastle over the centuries where the death sentance had been passed for not only murder, but for such things as 'stealing a letter', 'denying the King's pay', 'desertion', and 'burglary'.  In 1649  a witchfinder was summoned to Newcastle when 14 women and 1 man were denounced as witches.  All 15 were hanged on the Town Moor in 1650 and they were all buried together behind St Andrews church.

Susan has researched the stories behind many of these executions and these were covered in her talk.  One such tale was that of Ewan McDonald who,  having gotten into a fight in the Big Market, stabbed a Mr Parker to death.  McDonald was hanged for murder in 1752 which turned out to be a violent execution, so much so that when his body was being operated on by the barber surgeon, he was found to be still alive.

As well as covering tales of others who came to an untimely end at the hands of the executioner, Susan talked about many of the well known locations in Newcastle such as Blackfriars, St Nicholas Cathedral churchyard, Collingwood Street, Carliol Square Prison, All Saints Church, Trinity House, Quayside and of course the Castle itself. 

This was a most interesting presentation which was packed with dates and facts.

The next Branch Meeting takes place at 1.30 pm on Wednesday 20th February in St Hilda's Visitors Centre when the speaker is Andrew Clarke who will be talking about 'Pubs, Brewers & Beer' in South Tyneside.