John Bartendale: The Resurrectionist of York
27th March 1634

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John Bartendale was a piper and wandering minstrel who committed some felony (the records appear to incomplete as to the nature of his crime) and was sentenced to death at York Tyburn. After his hanging, his body was cut down and buried near the gallows.

Shortly afterwards, a man from an ancient family called the Vavasours from Hesselwood was riding past the grave when he fancied he saw the earth moving. Dismounting, he and his manservant uncovered the body within - which proved to be Bartendale, who somehow had survived his execution. The criminal was delivered back to the Castle and held until the next assizes. Brought in front of a judge, his deliverance was taken as a portent and he was given a full and free pardon.

After his brush with death, he is said to have led a wholesome life and when asked about the experience, described how "flashes of fire" darted into his eyes before he fell unconscious. A piece of doggerel recorded around the time about Bartendale runs thus:

"Here a piper apprehended,
Was found guilty and suspended,
Being led to fatal gallows,
Boys did cry 'Where is thy bellows?'
Ever must though cease thy turning,
Aswered he for all thy cunning,
You may fail in your prediction.
Which did happen without fiction
For cut down and quick interred,
Earth rejected which was buried,
Half alive and dead he rises,
Got a pardon next assizes,
And in York continued blowing-
Yet a sense of goodness showing."

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Author: Ian Freud   |  Last updated: 15th April 2012 | © Weird Island 2010-2020
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