Clarissa Johal: Frightening Friday-Dead Man's Chair

Friday, August 1, 2014

Frightening Friday-Dead Man's Chair

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia
In North Yorkshire, England of 1702, Thomas Busby was convicted for the murder of his father-in-law, Daniel Awety. The two had been arguing over petty counterfeiting activities. When Busby showed at the local pub, his father-in-law was sitting in his favorite chair which prompted yet another argument. Later that night, Busby bludgeoned Awety to death with a hammer.

On his way to the gallows, Busby asked to stop at the pub and have a final drink. When he finished, he cursed the chair saying, "May sudden death come to anyone who dare sit in my chair." Busby was dipped in pitch and left in a gibbet before the townspeople finally hung him at Sandhutton crossroads, right outside the pub. 

Busby's stoop chair or "Dead Man's Chair" as it's been called, is said to be responsible for the deaths of many people.

In 1894, a local chimney sweep and another man left the pub. The chimney sweep decided to sleep on the roadside. The following morning he was found hanging on a gatepost next to the old Busby gibbet. Locals report that even though the death was determined to be a suicide, the man had been sitting in Busby's chair the previous evening.

During WWII, crews from the Royal Canadian Air Force would frequent the pub. It is rumored that airmen who sat in the Busby chair never returned home.

In 1968, Tony Earnshaw took over as proprietor of the Busby Stoop Inn (as the pub was later renamed). Mr Earnshaw initially dismissed the Busby curse but later reported several fatal incidents which concerned him. One incident involved two airmen who dared each other to sit in the chair. Later that day, their car hit a tree and both men died on their way to the hospital. Another incident involved a group of builders who dared a young laborer to sit in the chair. He obliged but after returning to work, the laborer fell through a roof to his death. It was after this incident that Tony Earnshaw moved the chair to the cellar. However, the curse continued.

In 1978, a delivery driver made a delivery to the cellar. He told Mr Earnshaw how comfortable the chair was (after sitting in it) and suggested that it should be moved into the pub. Hours later, the delivery driver drove his vehicle off the road and was killed instantly.
Earnshaw sent the chair to the Thirsk Museum where it now hangs from the ceiling to prevent occupancy. 

The Busby Stoop Inn closed in 2012. Outside, Busby's noose still dangles from a gallows arm.

Photo courtesy of Google Maps

Is this just superstition and happenstance? There are several details that didn't quite add up when I was researching this story. But would I sit in this chair and tempt fate? Probably not. 


Heather Holden said...

Oh, gosh, this is incredibly eerie. Even if it was proven without a doubt to be just a coincidence, I wouldn't want to risk sitting in that chair, either!

Camela Thompson said...

Why did it take so long to remove the chair? I'd pass on sitting in it.

Clarissa Johal said...

Agreed, Heather.
I'm not sure, Camela! Maybe it was a combination of having an "intrigue" to bring in customers and a reluctance to believe in a cursed object(?) Seems fitting it was hung from the ceiling, though.

Carol Browne said...

I recall seeing a piece on TV about this years ago. I wonder why it wasn't just thrown on a bonfire if it really was a danger to anyone who sat in it.

Clarissa Johal said...

I've read that's not the best way to deal with cursed objects, Carol. I'm unsure why.