Black and white portrait
Wikimedia Commons

Louis Jeremiah Abershaw[a]Sometimes Abershawe. (c. 1773–1795), commonly known as Jerry Abershaw, was an English highwayman who for several years operated on the roads between London, Kingston, and Wimbledon.[1] Nothing is known of his life until he turned to crime at the age of seventeen.[2]

Headquartered at the Bald-Faced Stag inn near Kingston, Abershaw earned a reputation as a dangerous and violent criminal. Confronted on 13 January 1795 at the Two Brewers public house in Southwark, by two constables sent to arrest him, he shot one dead and attempted to shoot the other. Following his arrest, Abershaw was tried at the Surrey Assizes in Croydon on 30 July, for murder and felonious shooting.[1]

A legal flaw in Abershaw’s indictment invalidated the case of murder, but he was convicted and sentenced to death on the second charge of felonious shooting.[1] Abershaw was hanged at Kennington Common on 3 August 1795, and his corpse tarred and placed in a gibbet set by the road where he had plied his trade as a highwayman,[3] on Putney Common.[1]

Highwayman in action
Cigarette card from 1926
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The Murder Act 1752Act of parliament of England and Wales to increase the horror of being executed for murder by expediting the process and denying the right to a decent burial. had legislated that the bodies of hanged criminals were to be denied a decent burial, instead to be either dissected by anatomists or publicly hung in gibbets and left to rot.[4] By Abershaw’s time the use of the gibbet was usually confined to those found guilty of barbarous murder, highway robbery or robbing the mail.[5] Gibetting, commonly known as hanging in chains, was not abolished in England and Wales until 1834.[6]


a Sometimes Abershawe.



Lee, Sidney, and Heather Shore. “Abershaw, Louis Jeremiah [Jerry] (c. 1773–1795).” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Online, Oxford University Press, 2004,
Priestley, Samantha. The History of Gibbeting: Britain’s Most Brutal Punishment. Ebook, Pen and Sword History, 2020.
Tarlow, Sarah, and Emma Battell. Harnessing the Power of the Criminal Corpse. Palgrave Macmillan, 2018.
Tarlow, Sarah, and Zoe Dyndor. “The Landscape of the Gibbet.” Landscape History, vol. 36, no. 1, 2015, pp. 71–88,