This Day in History: 1684-03-16

On 16th March 1684 (some say May 1684 or 1685), burial records testify that William (or John) Nevison was hanged at the Knavesmire and interred at St Mary’s Church, Castlegate, York after being captured at the Three Houses Inn in Sandal Magna. His crime was the murder of a constable who had tried to arrest him near Howley Hall, Soothill, Batley. Born in 1639, in 1676 he supposedly rode his horse 200 miles from Rochester to York in a day to establish an alibi for a robbery, citing York’s Lord Mayor as a witness. It was rumoured Charles II nicknamed him Swift Nick on account of this alleged feat, later attributed to Dick Turpin in the 1834 novel Rookwood. Nevison’s Leap, a cutting through Ferrybridge Road, Pontefract, is the legendary place William Nevison spurred his horse to jump over to escape pursuing constables.