The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #51834 Message #1451022
Posted By: GUEST,aufwindian
03-Apr-05 - 03:45 PM
Thread Name: Origins: Who Wrote Dalesman's Litany? (Moorman)
Subject: RE: Origins: Who Wrote DALESMAN'S LITANY?
A travel historian writes: regarding the Halifax guillotine, this turns up in travel writing of the 1600s. Celia Fiennes (1698) nearly makes a detour to Halifax to view "ye Engine that that town was famous for to behead their Criminalls at one stroake wth a pully." Decommissioned by her time, this device for summarily executing cloth and other thieves predates the guillotine by at least a couple of centuries. It apparently explains the inclusion of Halifax in the refrain of the Dalesman's Litany, "From Hull and Halifax and Hell, Good Lord deliver me" (Hull is perhaps there because it had a reputation for dealing harshly with vagrants, which once infested the city). According to pedestrian John Taylor, who says he saw the Halifax contraption in 1639, when it may still have been in operation, a suspect could be executed at the discretion of a panel of townsmen, but the line could only be cut by the wronged party. If he or she baulked, the stolen items were forfeited to the community and the thief went free. I am fairly sure the phrase Hull Halifax and Hell was also current at this time, though I can't be bothered to dig up the quote right now. Hope this helps or entertains.