Devonport Gibbet Finally Blown Down

The following article was originally published in the Devonport Telegraph then reproduced by The Times newspaper on 27 Sept 1827. The military hospital that is referred to is today the home of Devonport High School. The gibbet, occasionally mentioned in Devonport local history books, stood for 39 years and was visible from Stonehouse Creek (now infilled and a playing field). It was also visible to persons leaving Stonehouse and entering Devonport through the Mill Bridge Toll Gate.

QUOTE: The gibbet which was erected in the year 1788, at the foot of the south wall of the Military Hospital, near Stoke church, and which has so long remained a conspicuous object of terror and interest, from the tragic circumstances connected with its erection, was blown down on Tuesday last, the wood being in a state of decay. On this gibbet the bodies of two malefactors, named Richardson and Smith, were hung in chains, in the month of March, 1788, in pursuance of their sentence in Exeter, where they were tried, condemned, and executed, for the murder of Mr. Smith, a clerk in the dockyard, whom they waylaid close by this spot, at nine o’clock in the evening of the 21st of July, 1787, and cruelly murdered, out of revenge, it was supposed, for some supposed injury received by Richardson, who was previously a labourer in the yard. The body of Smith dropped within a few months, but that of Richardson hung for nearly two years. UNQUOTE:

The Times, Tuesday, Sep 25, 1827; pg. 3; Issue 13393; col D - Accessed 14 April 2012.
(Available online from the Times Digital Archive, freely accessible from UK libraries)