History Of Brighton And Environs - Online Book

From The Earliest Known Period To The Present Time.

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they were sentenced to be executed at the spot where the robbery had been effected. They were conveyed to Horsham on horseback, and for their safe custody, not only were they handcuffed and pinioned with strong cords, but each had his legs roped together under the horse's belly, and, besides the constable that accompanied them, there was a military escort of four cavalry.
An immense concourse of spectators witnessed the execution of these unfortunate men, whose bodies, ac­cording to the barbarous custom of the times, were after­wards encased in an iron skeleton dress and gibbeted. The disgusting sight of their decaying bodies remained some time a terror to the timid, but a mark of recreation to the reckless and thoughtless, who were accustomed to throw at them and practise many revolting tricks.
When, however, the elements had caused the clothes and the flesh to decay, the aged mother of Rook, night after night, in all weathers,—and the more tempestuous the weather the more frequent the visits,—made a sacred pilgrimage to the lonely spot; and it was noticed that on her return she always brought something away with her in her apron. Upon being watched, it Avas discovered that the bones of the hanging men were the objects of her search, and as the wind and rain scattered them on the ground she collected the relics, and conveyed them to her home, and when the gibbets were stripped of their horrid burthen, in the dead silence of the night she interred them, deposited in a chest, in the hallowed ground of Old Shoreham Churchyard.
Besides being found guilty of robbing the mail, the Grand Jury, at the same Assizes, returned a "True Bill" against James Book, for horse stealing; but he was not put upon his trial for that offence, in conse­quence of being left for death upon the other charge. They were executed on the 2Gth of April, 1793, and a barn that was some years after erected near the spot by
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