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1533 Prison Tales - Modern Translation

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Modern English Variant

This house be spotted in the Salters lane - leading from Low gate Street to the northern end of the high street, and is two windows high - all with iron bars. The place is one for the putting in rebels, charged with murder. Here they live in iron chains, with their feet manacled until assizes-time. The house be under the control of the governor of the town for the time being, who ordered a soldier to be wending sentry, in the front, - night and day, with a loaded firearm and bayonet at the end, and to pad to and fro, in the front garden for six hours, and then be replaced by another. A sentry box stands in one of the corners, for him to shelter in bad weather. The building rests away back from the lane, and has grass fields in the front for miles away. The spot is surrounded by a wall 9 or ten feet high and the top is spiked with iron spikes all the way. In the middle are two massive iron gates, which open into the lane, and altogether the place in appearance be one of misery and gloom, and seems to have been built a good many years, by reason of the doorway having an inscription on it, in stone, in the brick-work, as under,.........

1515, 7, Henry VIII, T. Huntington, mayor
Time will reveal everything

A direful and deadly affair took on, at this spot, abought November 1533. A man was put in this place, impeached with the crime of murdering his wife, in the Bell Tower Walk. In this gloomy spot he was ordered to abide, while his trial came on at assizes-time. His good bearing was such, as to cause many of his friends and acquaintances to visit him, and amid the rest was the good old vicar of the Holy Trinity Church - John Teynton - a most worthy man, who wended every day to pray with him, in the hope of getting salvation in the next world for him.

One day, his chains had been removed for him to wash himself, and the sentryman having left the place for a minute or two, the man availed himself of the opportunity, and made his escape from a dormer window onto the roof, and wended from one house top to another, in the anxious expectancy of geting to one, no more than one window high, and wishing he could settle on to it without being seen - and get on to the Holderness fields, and then away altogether; however, before he managed to alight, the sentry missed his prisoner, and started an outcry, and a rummaging was made, and at last, the guard scanned him on top of the thatch and warned him to repair to his cell, in in case of refusal, he should be obliged to do his duty, - by levelling his firearm and shooting him.

The man boded no regard to the order, but continued to persevere, so the guard shot him, which made the poor wretch reel, and then fall headlong into the lane. His wailings and lementations, boded repentance, and were terrible to hear. The neighbours in Lowgate Street adjoinung, swarmed in scores to give him aid into the house, when it was found that both his legs had gotten shattered, and in a little time he died in the biggest of agonies - beseeching the Almighty God of all goodness, to grant him condonement for the dire deed he had committed, and agonised the justifiableness of God's holy wording "Vengeance is Mine"

The wretched man was buried at midnight in the middle of the 4 roads - leading from the Whitefriargate, to Scale Lane, and Market Place to Lowgate. (see map)A company of soldiers, with flaming torches were attenders, and Sir Willie Sidney [who became the governor of the town in consideration of the grand exploits he had made at the Fight of Floddon (battle of Flodden Field) together with the Mayor and some third boroughs (constables) followed. when the man was placed in his grave, a big stake was driven through his body into the earth, amid the presence of an amassment of people, whose bearing was waintly orderful, in consideration of the direness of the sad ceremony.

All these matters were told to my old father, by his father, James Johnson - he being foresaid mayor of this town at the day.


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