The curiously named Hangman Stone Road near Barnburgh in
South Yorkshire, recalls a local story about a sheep
stealer at a time when such theft was a capital offence. The man attached one end of a rope round the
sheep and tied the other end around his own waist. While stopping for a rest, he put the sheep
on top of a wall, but the sheep fell off and the rope slipped round his neck
and strangled him!
Divine retribution may well have been the result of an incident in the market place at Devizes in Wiltshire in the 18th century. An inscription on the old market cross tells us that :
Thursday the 25th
January 1753, Ruth Pierce of Potterne in this county,
agreed with three other women to buy a sack of wheat in the market,
each paying her due proportion towards the same.
One of these women, in collecting the several quarters of money discovered a deficiency, and demanded of Ruth Pierce the sum which was wanting to make good the amount.
Ruth Pierce protested that she had paid her share
and said she might drop dead if she had not.
She rashly repeated this awful wish, when, to the consternation of the surrounding multitude,
she instantly fell down and expired, having the money concealed in her hand.’