Halloween Special; the Murder of William Pickering

Before the introduction of Whitby’s toll booth in 1788 (built to pay for the upkeep of Whitby Abbey) a William Smith came to join a crowd of people that were being entertained by a popular puppeteer. William, for reasons unknown, refused to pay to watch the show entitled “Incredible Motion” which built up a rage inside the puppeteer.

As the show went on William, who was drunk, heckled the puppeteer (whose name is unknown) until he’d had enough. The puppeteer, enraged, drew out his sword and proceeded to try and savagely attack Smith, but during the tussle an innocent man was

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Church street during market day

stabbed to death; William Pickering, in front of horrified onlookers (some of which included children).

The puppeteer was caught, apprehended and brought to trial. Given the amount of eye witnesses and the fact that the entertainer was caught with the murder weapon in his hand, it wasn’t long for a verdict to be decided. Guilty of the most heinous crime; murder. For his sins he was put to death, and executed at York castle.

To this day it is believed that the mad puppeteer can be seen running through the market placed, dressed head to toe in black, wielding his bloody sword. It has been advised to avoid the ghost if you see him, as it is believed that if he catches you his face, still contorted with his deed, will send you insane.

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