J is for William Jobling

This is my contribution to Round Eleven of ABC Wednesday and again I am focusing on people, some famous, some infamous and some half-forgotten.

William Jobling was a miner in the town of Jarrow in the north east of England who in 1832 became the last man to be gibbeted in the United Kingdom.

It was a miserable death – to be hung by the neck until dead and then to have your body left to swing in the breeze in a metal cage as a warning to others. And Jobling had not even been the chief culprit of the crime he was convicted for.

He was involved in the local miners’ strike and had been drinking with another man, Ralph Armstrong. Both were much the worse for drink and their pockets were empty of coin.

Jobling saw the local magistrate, Nicholas Fairles, riding by and approached him, asking for money which he refused to give. This angered Armstrong who attacked Fairles with a stick, knocking the 71 year old from his horse.

Fairles was seriously injured and Armstrong and Jobling fled the scene only for the latter to be arrested two hours later when he was found still drunk and wandering on the beach.

He was brought before Fairles who identified him as one of his attackers, although not the one who had struck him, and Jobling was taken to Durham prison. He was charged with murder when Fairles died ten days later.

Armstrong had escaped, never to be seen again, and Jobling was left to face the music alone. It took the jury just 15 minutes to find him guilty of murder and he was sentenced to death and his body hung from a gibbet erected in Jarrow Slake, near the scene of the attack.

The judge said: ‘I trust that the sight of that will have some effect upon those, who are to a certain extent, your companions in guilt and your companions in these illegal proceedings which have disgraced the county. May they take warning by your fate.’

William Jobling

William Jobling

On 21st August 1832 Jobling was publicly executed by hanging, then his body was eviscerated and soaked in tar. It was placed in a metal cage, paraded through the streets, and then hung on a wooden post, just a few hundred feet from his home.

There it stayed for three weeks in full view of his wife and family until it was taken down by friends at night and secretly buried.

The gibbet was outlawed in the UK in 1834 and you can read a more detailed account of Jobling’s story on the Hub Pages.

Nobody’s prefect. If you find any spelling mistakes or other errors in this post, please let me know by highlighting the text and pressing Ctrl+Enter.

8 comments… Add yours
  • Ragged Trousered -Pudding 19th September 2012

    Another interesting tale from your unfathomable well of knowledge. Evisceration? Usually happens to me the morning after any curry feast. Smelly flatulence too!…Poor old Jobling -and yet I suspect former members of the Bullingdon Club would still be right behind Fairles… “Serves the blighter right!…Rhodes! More Pims over here my good man!”

  • Roger Green 19th September 2012

    Reminds me of lynchings in the US South. Strange fruit, indeed.

    ROG, ABC Wednesday team

  • Chrissy Brand 19th September 2012

    Another interesting, if grueseome, history lesson SP! Poor man. I am not a violent woman but I am not alone in thinking there are certain politicians that I would not shed a tear for were they gibbeted…

  • Mr Parrot 19th September 2012

    YP: There are those who saw such punishment as a political act. Jobling was a bonded miner – effectively a form of slavery – and industrial unrest prompted the establishment to apply the iron fist!

  • Elizabeth 19th September 2012

    Ian, turning to your post today feels a bit like a separation by six degrees exercise. The lady I have written about today went by the married name of Jobling and although they retired to another part of the North East, her husband was a miner who later died from lung dust related illness. It’s a popular surname in that part of the world and I’m sure there’s no connection there at all, but I got sent shivers down my spine when I read your title … what a strange business this blogging is. x

  • Joy 19th September 2012

    If the gibbeting was not bad enough, the few hundred yards from his home ratchet it up a notch. Guess that was because all the miners lived in the same area.
    Joy – ABC Team

  • john 19th September 2012

    I ALWAYS learn something here……
    I love it… your blog always makes me feel like I a back at school! lol

  • Cheri 20th September 2012

    Well, that’s pretty gruesome! And they left him there in front of his house and family? Worse than the execution. Very interesting reading.


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