Lt Jack Hepenstal (1760-1805)

Jack Hepenstal was a lieutenent in the Irish Yeomanry, who earned himself the nickname of "The Walking Gallows" at the time of the Irish Rebellion of 1798. A smiling giant of a man, Lt Hepenstal would roam about the countryside seizing any stray peasant whom he suspected might be a rebel. He would take off his silk cravat, and with the aid of a companion use it to string up his victim behind his back, after which he would ‘trot about with his burden like jolting carthorse’ until the man was dead. After Jack Hepenstal's death in 1802, some wag wrote for him the following epitaph: “Here lie the bones of Hepenstal; Judge, jury, gallows, rope and all” This epitaph, used metaphorically, is still quoted today to emphasise the importance of separating the legislature from the executive.

Following the death of Jack's brother George Hepenstal in 1805, his sister-in-law Hester Hepenstal, nee Watson, married Dr Patrick Duigenan, the Irish politician famous for his rabid anti-Catholic opinions. It is only because of Sir Jonah Barrington's reminiscences of Dr Patrick Duigenan in 'Historic Memoirs of Ireland'(1833) that we have the description of Lt Jack Hepenstal's barbaric practices at the time of the Irish Rebellion.

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