In March 1815, Anthony Lingard of Litton was convicted at Derby Assises of the murder of Hannah Oliver, tollhouse keeper at Wardlow Mires. He was hanged at Derby Jail, and by order of the judge, Sir John Bailey, his body was gibbeted (hung on public display) here at Peter’s Stone in Cressbrookdale, half a mile from his home – and less than half a mile from the scene of his crime. This was the last gibbeting to take place in Derbyshire, and gave Peter’s Stone a new nickname – Gibbet Rock.
The gibbeting attracted many sightseers – booths and stalls were put up in order to accommodate them.
Anthony’s motive for murder was that in addition to being poor he had a pregnant girlfriend. Instrumental to his arrest and conviction was the pair of red shoes he’d stolen from his victim. The cordwainer who had made them, Samuel Marsden of Stoney Middleton, was able to identify them during the trial as Mrs Oliver’s.
The story of Hannah Oliver’s murder by Anthony Lingard has entered the oral tradition and you can sometimes hear it told at storytelling performances. Most versions centre on the red shoes that Anthony had stolen – along with the money – from the tollhouse after he’d murdered Hannah. The red shoes seemed to follow Anthony around, and when he was caught in possession of them, and they were identified by the cordwainer who had made them, his fate was sealed.
The story goes that Hannah’s body was discovered by a maidservant from the inn across the road from the tollhouse, now called the Three Stags Heads.
For more of the folktale – and the history – se:
Mark P. Henderson, Folktales of the Peak District, Amberley Publishing, 2011, pp. 66-70.
For a 30-minute film reconstruction of the history, visit:
www.peakinthepast.co.uk/ and select Wardlow Mires: Shadows of the Gallows.