Is the infamous Busby Stoop chair and its shadowy links with the notorious murder of Daniel Awtey in 1702, a deathly curse from the past or just a clever marketing ruse?
Just west of the pretty market town of Thirsk in North Yorkshire and famous for the James Herriot vet stories, is the Busby Stoop Inn with a dark history and a curse reaching from the summer of 1702 to the present day.
In the late 17th century, a coin clipper and forger Daniel Awety moved from Leeds to the rural hamlet of Kirby Wiske some 3 miles from the Busby Stoop Inn, to continue his illegal business of counterfeiting the King's sovereigns. He bought a farm on the edge of Kirby Wiske and renamed it “Danotty Hall”, a derivative of Dan-Awety, which stands to this day. The hall sits at the top of a gentle rise, providing an excellent look-out for unwanted visitors.
Awety extended the hall - he built a hidden room linked by a secret passage from the underground cellar. He put a large oak door on the west of the hall which faced the access track and behind the door he installed a square iron bar. When visitors were seen coming up the track the iron bar could pulled across the back of the door.
Thomas Busby a local man married Awety's daughter Elizabeth and became partners with his father in the illicit coining business at the hall. It was reported, Busby a bully, returned home to discover Awety sitting in his favourite chair and after an argument he threw Awety out. It is said, Awety threatened to take his daughter Elizabeth away from Busby and return her to Danotty Hall.
Later that night Thomas Busby went up to Danotty Hall and bludgeoned Daniel Awety to death with a hammer. After murdering Awety, Busby hid the body in nearby woodland. When Awety failed to appear, a search was mounted which led to the discovery of Daniel Awety's body and the arrest of Thomas Busby.
Busby was tried at York Assizes in 1702 and condemned to hang and his body to be dipped in pitch and left exposed in a gibbet opposite the coaching inn at the cross roads on the old Great North Road leading into Thirsk.
Gibbeting - exposing the corpse in an iron cage, was feared by highwaymen more than the execution, it was believed the spirit could find no rest in the afterlife.
As Thomas Busby was being lead to his execution he is supposed to have cursed anyone who dared sit in his chair. Thereafter the inn at the cross roads became known as the Busby Stoop Inn, and the curse of the chair was born, or was it?
For the full story see The Dalesman Magazine September 2007