Executed at the York Tyburn 17 April 1736.

Thomas Cooper alias Sulay Horse theft            17 April 
John Midge als. Midgley     Highway robbery  17 April
Willm. Randale                     Highway robbery  17 April

Formerly felons were executed at the York Castle prison. Dick Turpin the romanticised highwayman was hanged* at the same place, the York Tyburn, three years later:

19 March 1739 Richard Turpin alias John Palmer Horse theft  7 April 
            "            John Stead (38)                               Horse theft  7 April

* People are hanged, it's meat that is hung.

'Tyburn, near York, is mentioned as the place of public execution in Drake’s Eboracum, pp. 171 and 398. “ In the midst of the high road betwixt Dringhouses and the city stands the fatal tripple tree, being the gallows for the execution of criminals in the county at large. This being in the liberties of the city must have been granted from them to the county as a place very proper, from its situation in the most publick high road+ round about us, for executions in terrorem. Before, as I am informed, the high sheriff caused this tragical affair to be performed within the precincts of the castle of York. On the side of Tyburn is a large common of pasture which has been of old called Knavesmire*, now Knaesmire' [Y. A. J.,  vol . 25, (1920), p 439.]

+ Roman Road (Tadcaster to York Road)
*Knavesmire on a modern O.S. map. (Now on the boundary of a racecourse).

The Tyburn site was used by the Crown's justice, administered at York Castle. Its gallows consisted of a wooden triangle standing on three wooden pillars  known as the 'Three-Legged Mare'. The site was the scene of executions for more than 400 years. There is a plaque locating the former site of the 'Three-legged mare' opposite Pulleyn Drive.

     The Three-Legged Mare - for hanging bounders


Those who were to be tried and had been condemned were kept at the York Castle Prison:

'Execution day was a big, rowdy event, criminals were a spectacle as they were driven from the prison to their deaths, sitting with their coffins. Until 1745 their bodies were quartered after hanging and special newspapers were printed.'

Dick Turpin (alias John Palmer) was executed here three years later for horse theft in the county of York although he had also been a rapacious highwayman in Essex. 'Turpin's involvement in the crime with which he is most closely associated, highway robbery, followed the arrest of the other members of his gang in 1735. In 1735 there were no executions at the York Tyburn. Executions were carried out by hanging. In 1736 there were three executions:-

Assize  date  Name  Crime  Execution date 
29 March 1736 Thomas Cooper  Horse theft. 17 April 1736
29 March 1736 John Midge als. Midgley Highway robbery 17 April 1736
29 March 1736 William Randall  Highway robbery 17 April 1736

William Randall and John Midge (otherwise Midgley) were found guilty at the York Assize of the highway robbery of Jonathan Lawton in the parish of Sutton (sic) on 26 August 1735, assaulting and robbing him of 62 gold guineas. 

A John Midge was christened on 26 December 1697 at Dunnington Parish Church nr. York. John and his father, Richard Midge, were residing at Dunnington at the time of John's christening. If this is the person who was executed then he would have orbited the sun about 39 times never seeing his 40th Summer. It was often the case that executed felons were buried at either St. Georges or St. Margaret's, York.

In 1739 there were two other executions at the York Tyburn:-

Assize  date  Name  Crime  Execution date 
19 March 1739 Richard Turpin Horse theft 7 April 1739
19 March 1739 John Stead (38) Horse theft 7 April 1739

                                                                                              Both were buried at St. George's Churchyard, York.


Capital Punishment on the York Circuit.

York Castle Prison

The National Archives: ASSI 41/2-128; ASSI 41/3. 

Daily Gazetteer, 10 Apr 1736. 

London Daily Post, 24 Apr 1736. 

Yorkshire Archaeological Journal, vol .25, (1920), p 439. [with incorrect date of 18 Apr 1736].
The Highwayman [Youtube music video]

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© Copyright Tim Midgley 2018, revised links July 2023..