19th Century Monkey Caught For Spying
( August, 2002 Volume 2 No.8 )

It was at the turn of the nineteenth century that a bizarre turn of events unfolded. In the northern part of England, where the winters are cold and long, the French were attempting to invade England. This was during the Napoleonic Wars. In Hartlepool, which at the time was an important trading port, part of the invasion was nearing the shore. The English, fearful of the continental colonists, kept watch as a boat struggled in the rough seas. The notoriously savage coastline claimed another victim, as the boat was wrecked on the rocks. In the detritus and debris found washed ashore there was a survivor. The fishermen who had watched as the ship was smashed against the rocks plucked the survivor from the frigid waters.
The survivor was alive but was a monkey. To amuse themselves the French sailors had dressed the monkey in military uniform. This baffled the fishermen who had not seen a monkey before. They decided that, as it was part of the invasion, it must therefore, be a French spy.

The monkey did not, unsurprisingly, speak English and was unable to defend itself at the beach-based trial. The ruling was unanimous and the monkey was found guilty of being a spy. The fishermen carried out the ruling by executing the monkey by hanging. The mast of a fishing boat served as makeshift gallows. Whilst nowadays they know more about wildlife and the French, the Hartlepoolians are less severe in their punishments. Historians have refuted the accuracy of this story but it still survives in the tales of the areas. The story of the French monkey spy is one that still entertains. It's accuracy is difficult to ascertain but its amusement factor is easier to gauge. Previous Article Top Next Article