Admiralty Jurisdiction was granted to Southampton by a charter of Henry VI in 1451. This grant allowed the Court of Admiralty, made up of the mayor, the recorder and four aldermen, to exercise admiralty powers within the bounds of the port, which for these purposes extended to Southampton Water, the River Test as far as Redbridge and the Itchen as far as Woodmill. These powers allowed the court to claim all wrecks within these boundaries and to regulate and licence fishing.

The Admiralty Gallows were used exclusively for hanging pirates and other offenders under the town’s admiralty jurisdiction. The gallows stood on the shore between the tides near modern day Canute Road opposite the end of Royal Crescent Road. The 1560 Map shows two gibbets at this location. The Daily Echo journalist ‘Townsman’ pinpointed the location of the gallows in 1930s Southampton as being between the Inner Dock and Empress Dock. The modern day equivalent would be near to Harbour Lights Cinema in Ocean Village.

Further reading:

Southampton Occasional Notes (2nd Series), by ‘Townsman’, p4 (HS/h)
History of Southampton, Volume 1, by A. Temple Patterson, p19-20. (HS/h)
Historical Development of Southampton, by R. R. Meggeson, p174-5. (HS/h)
The Admiralty Court Book of Southampton 1566-1585, by Edwin Welch (ed). (HS/l)


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