Tag Archives: blood

Murderer strung up for 67 years. It’s not enough !!!

Scrooby is a country village in the north of the county of Nottinghamshire.

Just to the north of the village, a toll-house used to exist on what was then called “The Great North Road”.

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On July 3rd 1779, it was the scene of two truly horrendous and violent murders.

In this largely rural and peaceful community, the tolls were always collected by Scrooby’s toll-bar keeper, William Yeadon. On the date of the slayings, William Yeadon, was being visited by his middle aged mother, Mary Yeadon. This particular evening, he had been playing cards with John Spencer, a man from the village of North Leverton with Habblesthorpe.  After the Yeadons had gone to bed, however, Spencer returned to the toll-house in the early morning and attempted to steal the money that had been collected as tolls the previous day. Gaining re-admittance to the building under a pretence that a drove of cattle wished to pass that way, Spencer then tried to carry off the strongbox under the cover of darkness, but unfortunately for everyone concerned he made far too much noise. Later it was thought that he had carelessly rattled the coins in the old wooden box too loudly. Mary and William were made immediately aware of what Spencer was trying to do, but the latter reacted with extreme violence…

“In a most barbarous manner he fractured their skulls by repeated blows with a heavy hedge stake.”

Spencer seized the money and then made the best of his opportunity to ransack the house. The murderer was interrupted by travellers as he dragged one of the bodies across the road to dispose of it in the nearby River Ryton. He was arrested shortly thereafter by a search party, but managed to escape. After he was apprehended for a second time, Spencer was taken to Nottingham and put on trial soon afterwards at the Shire Hall in High Pavement.
There was, of course, only one possible outcome, and Spencer was duly found guilty, taken on foot up to Gallows Hill and hanged on July 16th 1779.

3716238That was not the end of it though, as the rest of his sentence was that Spencer be taken to the scene of his crime in Scrooby, and

“to have his body hung in chains with the hedge stake in his right hand… near the place where the awful deed was perpetrated, on the gibbet post, near the Scrooby Toll-Bar”.

This was after his corpse had been liberally smeared with pitch and tar.

H in chains

These gruesome steps were taken “in accordance with the express words of his sentence”. More horror was to follow however, as I discovered as I sat one evening flicking through my back copies of “The Armagh Guardian” newspaper. In the June 9th 1846 edition I found an interesting account which was itself quoting the “Doncaster Chronicle”…

“After the lapse of a few weeks, a party of soldiers conveyed a deserter passing by the place, the sergeant fired his carbine, loaded with ball, at the corpse, and hit it, which caused a stench, almost unbearable for several days afterwards. The circumstances becoming known, the party was followed, and the sergeant taken, and on being subsequently tried by Court-martial he was found guilty and degraded on the ranks. Years rolled on, and the body gradually became less and less, until nothing was left but the chains which originally shackled it, and these in course of time fell and were secretly conveyed away. For several late years the post, with its withered and weather-beaten arm, was the only vestige left of that deed of blood which sixty-seven years ago filled the minds of the inhabitants of the surrounding districts with horror. But Time, which levels all terrestrial objects with his corroding breath, had for years past been gradually gnarling this once loathing stump to its core, and on the 15th of April 1846 actually accomplished his task, and it fell to rise no more.”

On the other hand, what is reputed to be the upright of the ancient Scrooby gibbet is currently preserved in Doncaster Museum.

Not surprisingly, after the murderer’s decaying body had been left dangling for so many years…

“the creaking cage and bleaching bones occasioned the haunting of the place by either disturbed spirits, or morbid sight-seers”

The hill, in Spencer’s honour, still keeps its name of “Gibbet Hill”. Nearby is the modern “Gibbet Hill Lane”. Nowadays, of course, Spencer’s rotting bones have been replaced by an owl sanctuary and a garden centre. What may conceivably have been the original toll-house, the scene of this dastardly crime, is still visible on the A638 leading north from the village, just before its junction with the green road.

map with gibbet hill


Filed under Criminology, History, Nottingham

Mountain Monsters: “I am a Marine and I will get the job done”

This week, the Hillbilly Hunters set off to Pike County, in Kentucky, in search of the legendary Hell Hound.

gang with trap
This infernal creature was first reported as far back as 1939, and reports continued throughout the 1940s. They came mostly from the moonshiners who were working their magic, way back in the woods, in log cabins. There were so many reports of the beast that a bounty of $20 was posted, and incredibly, this generous reward was duly collected when a hunter managed to kill one of the creatures. Unfortunately nobody could identify the corpse, and sadly, no trace, either physical or photographic, seems to have survived.

The first four members of the Hillbilly Hunters arrive in this cattle raising area, and they soon ascertain the facts. Firstly, the Hell Hound is actually blue because of its nocturnal habits, and it seems to have some kind of mane. It is about four feet tall at the shoulder and between seven and nine feet long. It is a creature which seems to have lost all fear of Man, and is using the tractor trails through the cornfields to get closer to the farmers’ barns and outbuildings. A Hell Hound  then be quite capable of dragging off an adult cow.

The team are shown a Black Angus calf by the worried farmer who owns it. The poor animal has enormous wounds on its back, which seem to me like no  predator that I recognise. They appear to be symmetrical, and I think careful thought should be given to the idea that they may have been carried out with a knife by the member of some crazy cult.

A second farmer, Drew, shows us his video, which he took looking through a stand of trees towards a small barn, from which HH duly emerges. I do feel that experienced photo analysis from a person who has talents in this field might well be able to establish what creature this may be. I am clearly no expert in the wildlife of Kentucky but as an English outsider, I might even put suggest that what Drew saw was a very large wild boar.

The last two to arrive are the enfants terribles of the programme, Willy and Wild Bill, who now has some fluffy dice dangling charmingly from the mirror of his vehicle, put there by his mother-in-law.

diceThe two of them quickly make what looks to be an extremely strong trap from long lengths of local bamboo.

Wild Bill immediately steals the show as he mimes shaving himself with a macheté. “ I spent time or two trying to bust out of the old jailhouse, never figured I’d be building one.”

Quite extraordinarily, Wild Bill, having climbed the tree for the trap, then sees HH on the far side of the field. He sets off on the chase, brandishing his macheté. He gets a glimpse of him… “He’s a dandy big’un.” Is he fast? “ He can put her down the old canyon”. Bill measures his height and puts his hand out, “He stands about yay tall.”


In the night hunt, the team hears growls and roars and they find where HH takes his cows to dismantle. It is awash with blood and fat and goo.

Standing next to a greenhouse which is brightly illuminated from the inside, they see the blurred shadow of an animal, presumably HH, come hurtling past them at huge speed. They chase after him, and three of the group manage to physically touch him, probably the first time he’s ever been literally in contact with Man. They may not manage to capture HH, but their determination remains as strong as ever.

“I am on his ass and I wanna get him.”
“I wanna put the old heat on his hide.”
“I’ll see if I can’t get his old hide on the wall. ”
But as Willy says philosophically though, “He lives to be hunted another day.”

The usual discussion then follows…

I gain fantastic enjoyment from the Big Six. Their program remains enormously entertaining, and is certainly the highlight of my viewing week. I try always to watch it twice, as on first viewing, you can miss many informative details.

I know from various sources on the Internet, that there are many people out there who seem to be ferociously upset by this program. As I’ve repeatedly said, I think the programme is marvellous. I do not think it makes anybody look like an idiot, either a local inhabitant, a Hillbilly Hunter or, hopefully, a reviewer.

And whether or not you believe in the Hell Hound of Pike County, Kentucky, there will always be doubt in your mind, because so many similar creatures have been seen across the world.

In one of my future blog posts, I will be talking about the Beast of Gévaudan, which ravaged the bleak highlands of central France some 250 years ago. It is an established fact that this animal killed many people, perhaps in excess of a hundred. Eyewitnesses, of course, varied in their descriptions, but none of them seems really  to be describing a known animal.

Here in England we have our very own Hell Hound, an enormous black dog, with red eyes, who is called “Old Shuck”. He is never a very nice doggy to meet with, as he usually foretells the imminent demise of the person who sees him.


This charming little chap may well figure in another blog post in the future.

Above all, though, until next time, never forget the company motto, “I am a Marine and I will get the job done.”


Filed under Cryptozoology