Posted by SuzanneR on August 25, 1998 at 10:52:21:
I came across this amusing anecdote which I wanted to share--even though it comes from the 18th century, not the Regency. This is from E.W. Brayley, Londiniana, 1828:
"On Temple Bar were formerly placed the heads of those persons who were decapitated for high treason: the last which was thus exhibited was that of Simon, Lord Lovat, who was executed on Tower Hill, for the rebellion of 1745. One of the iron poles, or spikes, on which they were placed, was only removed at the commencement of the present century.
In Nichols's 'Literary Anecdotes', is the following singular passage, relating to the head of Counsellor Layer, which had been thus fixed upon Temple Bar. Layer was executed for high treason, at Tyburn, on May 17th, 1723, and died in the steady maintenance of his principles. Dr. Rawlinson was a non-juror, and a distinguished antiquary. He lived at London House, Aldersgate Street, the ancient palace of the Bishops of London:--
'When the head of Layer was blown off Temple Bar, it was picked up by a gentleman in the neighborhood, [Mr. John Pearce, an attorney,] who shewed it to some friends at a public house, under the floor of which, I have been assured, it was buried. Dr. Rawlinson, meanwhile, having made inquiry after the head, with a wish to purchase it, was imposed on with another instead of Layer's, which he preserved as a valuable relique, and directed it to be buried in his right hand.' The Doctor died on the 6th of April, 1755, and was interred in St. Giles Church, Oxford."
Whose head do you suppose it was that Dr. Rawlinson bought?
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