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The Murder of Nicholas Fairles
On June 11th, William Jobling, a Jarrow pitman, was involved in a drinking session at a local pub with Ralph Armstrong. By the toll-bar gate in Jarrow, a grim north-east mining village, on a grim north-east English coast, Jobling, having spent his last penny, recognised Nicholas Fairles, a 71-year-old magistrate, riding past. Jobling approached him in a friendly gesture and asked for some money. Fairles refused to hand any over, but was not unduly distressed by Jobling's inebriated state, and in a well tempered altercation attempted to carry on his journey. Unfortunately this snub enraged Armstrong who, high on drink, assaulted him with a stick and stone. The magistrate fell from his horse, and the shocked and confused Jobling attempted to offer compassionate assistance. His friend in panic, grabbed him and persuaded him to flee, or else they would both be for the chop. Fairles was left seriously injured. Two hours later Jobling was arrested, found wandering drunk on the beach, and hauled before the victim.
The magistrate still had the wherewithal to acknowledge that it was not Jobling who struck him, but the other man, who had escaped. Nevertheless, Jobling was removed to Durham prison, until, ten days later Nicholas Fairles died, and Jobling was charged with his murder.
What became of Armstrong is unknown, however he was a sailor, and no doubt managed to return to his ship and sail away.

On August 21st 1832 Jobling was tried for murder by Mr Justice Parkes, a notorious judge who hung or transported prisoners with impunity. Upon sentence, with the black cap on his head, he addressed Jobling saying: I trust that the sight of that will have some effect upon those who are, to a certain extent, your companions in guilt and your companions in these illegal proceedings which have disgraced the county. May they take warning by your fate.

At his place of execution, with the noose around his neck, Jobling attempted to apologise, but words failed him. The ground beneath him disappeared, and his neck, after a delay, finally snapped. His death was prolonged because just as the trap opened, he turned his head briefly in recognition of a voice of familiarity crying out from the crowd. Some suggest the caller may have been Armstrong in disguise. In any event, the action dislocated the rope. His body was then eviscerated and soaked in tar. It was placed in a metal cage, paraded through the streets, and in a final indignity, hung on a wooden post, just a few hundred feet outside his home.
There it swung, guarded by a contingent of Hussars, until it became so putrid a few brave people eventually managed to clandestinely remove and bury it - to a place still unknown.

William Jobling's family, are lost to history. His wife was committed to South Shields workhouse, and his children probably suffered the same fate.

Nicholas Fairles was buried in St Hilda's Churchyard in an unmarked grave. The location was not recorded.


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