One common belief about ghosts relates to the manner of their deaths. it is said that people who die suddenly, tragically or violently, often become ghosts. Perhaps because they do not realize they are dead or maybe it’s that they have vowed revenge or perhaps they are trying to atone for something that they have done during their life. Criminals seem to fit this profile very well, and that may be why so many convicts have been seen as ghosts. It also would account for the fact that prisons are a real hot spots for ghost hunters.
Throughout history especially in Europe you can find accounts of highwaymen hauntings. They have been known to haunt, their places of execution, their hideouts and their favorite spots to rob people.
One of the most famous highwaymen was the rogue Dick Turpin. Dick was born in 1705 in Essex, England. As a young man he joined the infamous band of robbers the Gregory Gang. His life of crime included, cattle theft, smuggling, highway robbery and murder. He was caught and executed in 1739.
If you want to see Dick Turpin it is said that his ghost now haunts an Inn in Kent. He has been sighted by a number of patrons quietly seated at a table writing with a quill pen. He is said to be sporting a plumed hat and wearing a green velvet jacket.
Another famous highwayman turned ghost is that of Tom Black. The man was called nicknamed Tom Black because of his jet black hair and dark complexion. Tom was eventually caught and hung at the junction of Union St and Tavistock in Bedford. The story claims that the locals were so afraid of Tom Black that when they buried him at the crossroads they put a steak through his heart to keep him from rising from the grave. Sadly according to locals this was not effective.
Many people have claimed to have seen the Ghost of Tom. And he has not been sighted alone. He is rumored to have found a ghostly friend. The second ghost has not been identified but people in years past have been so terrorized that they would not go out in the dark for fear of encountering Tom and his pal.
Lychpole Manor is another place that claims to have a resident highwayman ghost. It is said that at the turn of the 19th century travelers were set upon by a highwayman on the stretch of tracks between the village of Landing and Steying. The un-named highwayman was eventually caught and convicted.
In the tradition of the times the guilty man was hung by the crossroads. Before his execution he swore revenge on the town. He claimed that no-one would pass over his body easily, they would feel the bump and jolt of his remains forever. Strangely it is said that they actually placed his grave right across the road. The following day the towns people were shocked to discover that the head of the highway man had become unburied. This was an event that was to happen many times in the future. And people who travelled the road at night claimed that as they passed that spot they hit a rock or big bump. But when they examined the area closer there was nothing there.
For whatever reason the ghost stories surrounding highwayman are numerous and varied. These spooky, strange tales come from all over the world. Maybe it is because so many of them died in such violent ways.