The Last Decapitated Head Displayed On London Bridge [Broadside]. Stayley, William. An Account of the Digging Up of the Quarters of William Stayley, Lately Executed for High Treason, For That His Relations Abused the Kings Mercy. Imprimatur Novemb 30. 1678. William Scroggs. London: Printed for Robert Pawlet at the Sign of the Bible in Chancery-Lance [sic], near Fleet-street. 1678. 11-1/2" x 16" broadside. Light toning, faint vertical and horizontal fold lines, 4-1/2" section excised from foot of left margin, old tear professionally repaired with no loss of printed surface. A well-preserved copy. $850. * William Staley (or Stayley) was one of the victims of the Popish Plot, one of the cruelest hoaxes in British history and the inspiration for a wave of anti-Catholic violence. It was the invention of Titus Oates, an Anglican clergyman, and his friend, Dr. Israel Tonge, a cleric and passionate anti-Catholic. They pretended to have discovered a Jesuit plot to assassinate the King, massacre Protestants, and set James, Duke of York, the King's Catholic brother, on the throne. Convicted as a conspirator, Staley was executed and quartered in 1678. "Instead of his quarters being set upon the city gates the king allowed them to be delivered to his relatives. Mass was said over his remains and a 'grand' funeral was arranged from his father's house on 29 November, before his burial in St Paul's, Covent Garden. This incensed the government so much that the coroner ordered the body to be dug up and delivered to the sheriff to be set upon the city gates" [Oxford Dictionary of National Biography]. William Stayley's head has a small place in London's history; it was the last to be displayed on London Bridge. English Short-Title Catalogue R211806.
Book number 64526