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Page history last edited by PBworks 17 years, 1 month ago

Parson Darby: Was Yateley's Vicar a Highwayman?

Contributed by Peter Tipton to the Yateley Society's Annual Exhibition, 1999

Additional material taken from the 1st Library Lecture Hunting Down Parson Darby by Peter Tipton 20 Oct 1999


The Parson Darby Myths


There are several variants of this legend but one of the most specific states that Parson Darby was hanged from the yew tree in the garden of the Yew Tree Inn at Darby Green in 1841. He is stated variously to have been either the vicar, rector or curate of Yateley or Eversley, preaching in church on Sundays. On weekdays he would rob the mail coaches crossing Yateley Common, or wider afield.


One version gives colourful details of him riding slowly up to Monteagle House on a slow nag, dressed in his ecclessiastical garb, ostensibly to visit one of his flock. There he changed into his highwayman‘s clothes,

strapped on a couple of pistole and a mask, mounted another faster animal from the farm, and stopped a coach on Hartford Bridge Flats - galloping back with the loot, which he then conveniently lodged in the cellars to be disposed of later. He would change horses and hack quietly back through the village.

This Monteagle House version states that he was hanged at Gibbet Hill near Bagshot. Naturally enough the Camberley version has him gibbetted in Camberley, but is very specific about the location:-

opposite the Wooden House Tavern between Middleton Road and Gibbet Lane -- precisely where he shot dead the driver of the Royal Mail coach.


Both the Darby Green and Eversley versions have romantic stories of his fondness for the ladies, stating that in 1841 he was finally betrayed by one. In the Eversley version his ghost is still supposed to walk the treed avenue of Glaston Hill House, said to have been his parsonage. Both these variants have him hanged on Darby Green, the Eversley version stating that he was taken there by his Eversley parishioners so as not to hang him in his own parish, because he had been very generous to the poor of Eversley.


The Darby Green version adds the nice little touch that his stableboy was often puzzled to find his master‘s horse sweating excessively in the morning, obviously having been ridden hard the night before. Verbal tradition in Yateley has it that Parson Darby used to do his drinking at the Yew Tree Inn, that he was finally caught in the Inn, and immediately hanged outside, exactly where the bus stop now is.


Most published versions of the myth state that Darby Green was named after Parson Darby, following his hanging there.


Is the 1841 myth correct?

Is there a more likely explanation?

Who are possible suspects?

The Heyday of the Highwaymen

Was Darby Green named after Parson Darby?

The Yew Tree Inn, Darby Green

Murders in Yateley

Holdup at Blackwater




But who was the real PARSON DARBY?


Click here to find out...



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