As far as history recalls, Halifax was the only town in England to regularly dispatch its criminals by beheading them with a guillotine, or gibbet as it was (and is) known by the locals. A replica of the gibbet stands today in gibbet street, as a monument to all the souls who lost their heads somewhat unfairly below the gibbet. Anyone caught stealing goods worth more than thirteen and a half shillings would be likely to go to the gibbet.

The first documented use of the gibbet took place in 1286, and the tradition continued until 1650.

There was however, a peculiar exception surrounding the gibbet. If the condemned could remove their head just as the blade fell, and escape the city never to return then they were safe. Several people managed this feat. One man, by the name of John Lacy managed it, only to return seven years later and lose his head.

Barbaric as it seems, this punishment seemed to be an effective deterrent to criminals. The gibbet law soon became feared throughout northern England, and was incorporated into the thieves' litany.

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