On this day in history : 4th September 1739 – The execution of Michael Curry for the murder of the landlord of the Three Horseshoes Inn at Hartley, near to Whitley Bay…. Curry was then gibbeted overlooking the scene of his crime….
On the headland, overlooking the causeway towards St. Mary’s Bay, Whitley, North Tyneside a blue plaque can be found…. It reads:
‘On 4th September 1739 Michael Curry was executed for the murder of the landlord of the Three Horseshoes Inn, Hartley. His body was afterwards hung in chains from a gibbet at this spot within sight of the scene of his crime. Ever since that gruesome event this headland has been known as Curry’s Point’….
The plaque was erected on the 4th of September 1989, to mark the 250th anniversary of the macabre happening…. Michael Curry was a glass worker at the local glassworks in Seaton Sluice…. Following his conviction for the murder of landlord Robert Shevill he was hanged in Newcastle….and then, as was common practice of the times, his tarred body was left in sight of the crime scene…. It was a practice known as ‘gibbeting’ – or ‘hanging in chains’….and was intended to discourage others from committing similar offences…. Gibbets were usually placed where they would be highly visible, frequently at crossroads or by busy waterways….
The Murder Act 1751 made this practice into a regulated procedure…. ‘In no case whatsoever shall the body of any murderer be suffered to be buried’….meaning the corpse of the executed murderer had to be either publicly dissected or left to rot hanging in chains…. The practice was finally formally repealed by statute in 1834…. The last two men to be gibbeted in England were William Jobbing and James Cook – both in the same year of 1832….