The Hartlepool Monkey
The best known tradition and legend associated with the fishermen of Hartlepool is the story of the hanging of the monkey. Tradition attributes this legend to the Napoleonic wars at the beginning of the nineteenth century. It was a December day and the coast at Hartlepool was subject to a heavy battering of gales and snow, through which a French vessel called the Chasse Maree could be vaguely seen just off the Hartlepool headland.
The fisherfolk of Hartlepool fearing an invasion kept a close watch on the French vessel as it struggled against the storm but when the vessel was severely battered and sorrowful looking survivor, the ship's pet monkey dressed to amuse in a military style uniform.
The fishermen apparently questioned the monkey and held a beach-based trial. Unfamiliar with what a Frenchman looked like they came to the conclusion that this monkey was a French spy and should be sentenced to death. The unfortunate creature was to die by hanging, with the mast of a fishing boat (a coble) providing a convenient gallows.sunk they turned their attention to the wreckage washed ashore. Among the wreckage lay one wet and
In former times, when war and strife
The French invasion threatened life
An' all was armed to the knife
The Fisherman hung the monkey O!
The Fishermen with courage high,
Seized on the monkey for a French spy;
"Hang him!" says one; "he's to die."
They did and they hung the monkey Oh!
They tried every means to make him speak
And tortured the monkey till loud he did speak;
Says yen, "That’s French.” Says another, "It’s Greek,"
For the fishermen had got druncky oh!
HTML line breaks added in place of double spacing. --JoeClone, 18-Mar-02.