The last man to be hanged on the IW

By Keith Newbery

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

 

THE NAME of Micah Morey has gone down in Island folklore as the last man to be publicly hanged on the IW — except he wasn’t.

Morey was actually executed at Winchester Prison in 1737 for the murder of his grandson, James Dove, at Staplers, and his body was returned to the Island where it swung from a gibbet near the Hare and Hounds as food for the birds until it became "an offence to eye and nostril".

It never seemed to become an offence to basic humanity but it was a different world back then. You could be sentenced to death for offences as varied and trivial as going out at night with a blackened face, or impersonating a Chelsea Pensioner.

The name of the last man to go to the gallows before an appreciative crowd on the IW was actually James Artegan, an Irish soldier who met his fate on August 8, 1814, "on a piece of sloping ground opposite the principal gates of Parkhurst Barracks", later to become the site of Albany Prison.

He was in an Island-based regiment called the York Chasseurs and was in Portsmouth (probably deserting) when he robbed a man of his coat and waistcoat.

For some reason he then returned to the Island, as did his victim, and the man quickly informed the local constabulary after spotting Artegan in Newport. The hapless soldier was tried at Winchester Assizes, sentenced to death and the judge thought he would add to the theatricality of the occasion by ordering him to be returned to Newport to be executed in public.

How do I know all this? Because Grumpy Greening told me, that’s how, and I’m always happy to take his word on such matters.

He stumbled upon the truth while researching his book, This Was Our Island, last year, and now finds himself in something of a moral pickle.

While acknowledging that execution as a spectator sport is not to be recommended, Brian still thinks Artegan’s grisly end should be commemorated in some way as the 200th anniversary of his fate approaches.

He told me: "Allowing a man to be slowly strangled in public is not something the Island should be proud of but nonetheless it happened here and I think it should be officially acknowledged to ensure the integrity of our local history, if nothing else.

"A discreet notice or simple plaque could be placed opposite the gates of Albany Prison, if that were possible.

"If not, it could be positioned somewhere nearby on the Newport Walk, even if it has to be on the cycle-path or in Dodnor Lane, stating the bare facts of what was, by any civilised standards, an evil deed."

Over to you, Newport Parish Council.

Here’s a second bus complaint

Hallelujah! The boss whose company urges people to talk2us.com has finally managed to talk2me.com — sort of.

Matt Kitchin, general manager of Southern Vectis, eventually responded to my complaint about the conduct of one of his drivers by writing a letter to the County Press.

His preferred method of communication is fine by me because, despite trying to speak to Mr Kitchin twice and e-mailing him personally about an incident involving one of his drivers, I also had to resort to the columns of this newspaper to finally get my message across.

He laments the fact I did not leave a number for him to return my call. This may have had something to do with the fact that after my second failed attempt by telephone, his receptionist suggested I put my complaint in an e-mail.

If Mr Kitchin was so eager to discuss the matter with me personally, why did he not get his "more than capable team" to reply to my e-mail by seeking my telephone number or leaving his own direct line?

"We are not all avid readers of Keith’s column" he wrote (which is true, there are many discerning folk who aren’t, including members of my own family).

But the Island is a small place, people know people who know people (especially when they’ve lived here more than 65 years) and despite Mr Kitchin’s contrived insouciance about the column in which I criticised his snivelling reaction to Cllr Whitehouse’s Tweet complaint, he knows he read it — and he knows I know.

But his alleged reluctance to venture towards this corner of the Weekender does prompt one rather obvious question: how did he manage to respond so promptly and comprehensively to the last column I wrote about him if he never reads it?

While we are communicating, he might like to know more about an angry e-mail I received last week from a chap who described some Southern Vectis drivers in less than glowing terms and gave the reasons.

If Mr Kitchin would care to get his "more than capable team" to get my number and give me a call, I’d be pleased to discuss it with him.

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