Why would one hang a monkey?

The newest Sports Illustrated sez that supporters of the Hartlepool football side, in the northeast of England, are campaigning for the team’s mascot as mayor of Hartlepool. Seems it’s a monkey named H’Angus, and that Hartlepudlians are nicknamed “Monkey Hangers”.

Apparently there was an incident a couple of hundred years ago when they hanged a monkey for being a French spy. So, I sez to myself, “Self, WTF? A French spy??? How drunk would one have to be to think that seriously enough to execute poor little Bonzo? Did he have a natty tailored suit and a cigarette case with a poison gas dispenser and a microfilm compartment or something?”

Can any of you friendly Brits fill in some details? Much obliged.

Yes, up to medieval times, animals were sometimes prosecuted for crimes.

(insert Ancient trivia re. a wolf hanged for murder, 16xx, in what is now Germany).

OK, search engine freaks, go wild!

This raises the more interesting question: How does one hang a monkey?

They probably don’t weigh enough for the drop to snap their necks, and they’re probably strong enough that they could pull the rope off if you just left them hanging.

Animals have been ceremonially “executed” in more modern times as well. In particular, elephants, as a public spectacle:

Mary, hanged - http://www.blueridgecountry.com/elephant/elephant.html

Topsy, electrocuted - http://www.roadsideamerica.com/pet/topsy.html

I would guess that a large component of medieval prosecutions and executions of animals stemmed at least partially from a similar desire for “entertainment”.

IIRC, the monkey washed up on shore after a ship sank in the Channel. The locals who found it didn’t know what or who it was, assumed the worse, tried and hanged the bugger.

…“monkey hanged”. Hit #1.

Add “greenock” to search terms.


Change “greenock” to “Hartlepool”–and many, many hits come up, all of which refer to it as the “Hartlepool monkey legend.”

So to address the OP, no, it doesn’t look like it really happened.

For the same reasons that humans are executed: punishment and deterrence.

Well, there was that Roman holiday…

It seems that, in the early days of Rome, the Gauls invaded. The dogs who were supposed to be guarding the city stayed asleep, but the geese sacred to Juno got upset when they saw the Gallic army, making such a loud noise that they woke the Romans, who beat the Gauls.

So, every year, the Romans had a holiday where a procession would carry geese, who the crowd would honor, and hang several dogs, who would then be carried on poles for the crowd to mock for their treachery.

Didn’t some Pope in the Middle Ages decide that cats were evil and so everyone started killing all the cats?

And then they were overrun by rats-hence, the bubonic plague?

Hmmmm…you know, that would make a GREAT question for Cecil!

The story of cats being associated with Satan and/or witches has been going around.

Don’t know how much is historically accurate, let alone attributable to a single Pope, but for those who like to google, try:


Well, yeah, I could have just Googled it and not troubled the Dopers, but what fun is that?

So they thought the monkey was French because it couldn’t speak English? I’ve heard blokes from the north of England that I could swear weren’t speaking English, either.

Hanging a monkey? I can top that!

In Uglich they Flogged a church Bell and had it exiled to Siberia!

IIRC the bell is the one that was rung to rally the town to catch the murderers of Demitri (son of Ivan the terrible)
The bell has since been returned to .
Here is a Cruise tour webpage that mentions it in brief. (Read under the Uglich Paragraph)
Oh the picture at the top of the Webpage is Uglich and the Church that the bell resides is the building on the left.

In addition to punishment and deterrence, a third reason is to prevent the monkey in question from further misdeeds.

Well, they share 98% of their DNA with us, so why not?

You’re thinking of chimps, Mangetout. I think the figure is more like 99% for chimps. Chimps are not monkeys. There are lots of types of monkeys, some closely related to humans and some not so closely related.

Bah, details details.

I’m on your team, Elvis.

I often spank mine!

Why hang a monkey? Because he’s not worth wasting a bullet on!

It’s high time we stop coddling these monkey criminals in their monkey prisons, or “zoos”, and reinstate the monkey death penalty in this country!