Thomas Busby was nothing but a common thug. He was a drunk, a thief, and a counterfeiter. He lived in Kirkby Wiske, England during the 17th century. One day, Daniel Auty moved to Kirkby Wiske with his daughter Elizabeth (Auty has also been spelled Awety). Daniel was a counterfeiter, and thought the small town would be a safer place to do business. He bought a barn and built a safe room under it so he could do his counterfeiting. He named his place “Dannoty Hall” Meanwhile, Elizabeth and Daniel fell in love and got married.
Daniel didn’t like Thomas, and definitely didn’t like that he married Elizabeth. But she loved Thomas, so Daniel brought him into the family business. Busby and Elizabeth moved into an inn not too far from Daniel’s house. When he wasn’t out drinking or breaking the law (or both), he spent a lot of time sitting in his favorite chair. The story of what happened next varies depending on who’s telling it,
There was a fight between Busby and Daniel. They had a very tumultuous relationship. Either they were fighting about their counterfeit business, or Daniel decided he couldn’t take it anymore and tried to force Elizabeth to leave Busby. When Busby got home, drunk, he was livid. Not only was Daniel trying to break up his marriage, but he was sitting in Busby’s chair! They had an argument, Elizabeth refused to leave, and Daniel went home. Later at night, Busby walked over to Danotty Hall and beat Daniel to death with a hammer.
Because of their relationship, Busby was a suspect. He was ultimately found guilty of murder in 1702 and sentenced to die by hanging. After his execution, his body was dipped in tar and gibbited near the inn where he lived. The inn’s name is now The Busby Stoop Inn.
Legend has it that on the way to his execution, Busby cursed the chair saying that “Death will come shortly” to anyone who sits in his chair. The owner of the inn told everyone about the chair, and soon everyone wanted to sit there. Over 60 people have died in “weird ways” since sitting in it.
- The first known death was a chimney sweep that was out having a drink with a friend. He was walking home drunk after sitting in it and decided to sleep it off on the side of the road. He was found hanging from the gibbet the next morning.
- Any military personnel from the nearby air base that sat there died during the war.
- Two others died in a car crash the night they sat in the chair.
- Someone had a heart attack after sitting in it.
- There were bicycle accidents, car accidents, and motorcycle accidents. All the same night the victim sat in the chair.
- A contractor who sat in it fell through the roof of a building.
The owner of the inn finally had enough and gave the chair to the local museum called The Thirsk Museum. They have the chair hanging from a wall so that no one can sit in it. The story of the curse is written on a card attached to the chair, along with a warning not to touch it.
The chair was examined by Dr. Adam Bowetta, furniture historian. He said that the chair at the museum could not be the original chair from the time of Busby’s execution. He said that the spindles on the chair were made by a machine and a process that wasn’t invented then. He said that the chair was made around 1840.
Do you believe in curses?