The Notorious Halifax Gibbet Bentley, William. [Midgley, Samuel (d.1695)]. Hallifax, And its Gibbet-Law Placed in a True Light. Together with a Description of the Town; The Nature of the Soil; The Temper and Disposition of the People; The Antiquity of its Customary Law, And the Reasonableness Thereof: With an Account of the Gentry, And Other Eminent Persons Born and Inhabiting Within the Said Town, And the Liberties Thereof: With Many Other Matters and Things of Great Remark, Never Before Publish'd. To which are Added, The Unparallel'd Tragedies Committed by Sir John Eland, Of Eland, And His Grand Antagonists. London: Printed by J. How, For William Bently, At Hallifax, In Yorkshire, 1708. [vi], 174 pp. With woodcut illustration of the Halifax gibbet opposite title page. 12mo (5-3/4" x 3-1/4"). Contemporary sheep, gilt paneling to boards, rebacked in period-style vellum, raised bands and blind fillets to spine, gilt tooling to board edges, marbled endpapers, blind tooling to inside edges. Light rubbing with some scuffing and wear to boards, moderate rubbing to extremities, including corners, which are bumped and worn, front hinge cracked. Moderate toning to interior, occasional faint dampspotting, faint dampstain to bottom half of text block in a few places, slight loss to corners in a few places with no loss to text, ownership signature (of "N. Hunton") dated 1712 to front endleaf, early(?) annotations to illustration leaf and p. 67. $350. * First edition. The Halifax gibbet was an early guillotine used to execute petty criminals until the mid-seventeenth century, long after use of the devices had been abandoned elsewhere. The law allowing the executions was an echo of feudal privileges given to the Lord of the Manor of Wakefield allowing him to execute anyone for the theft of goods of a certain value. The practice of Halifax's gibbet law was ultimately ended by Cromwell in 1650, but its legacy loomed large in the town. Midgely wrote our account while in prison for debt, either from his own imagination or an existing manuscript, but could not afford to have it published. Bentley, the parish clerk, discovered the manuscript and published it under his own name with some additions (likely the story of Eland, which seems unrelated to the gibbet). It was reissued in 1712 with a new title page and again in 1761 by Bentley's grands.
Book number 72773