THIS is the remarkable true story of a highwayman who was hung for his crimes horrified Warrington.

Janice Hayes features the tale of villainous Edward Miles in her work The A-Z of Warrington.

Miles was the key figure in an infamous robbery along Manchester Road in Woolston in 1791, which had none of the romance of Dick Turpin.

It was early on the morning of September 15, 1791, when a post office worker, James Hogarth, 24, rode out of Warrington carrying mail and money. He was heading for Manchester when he was ambushed by an armed gang near Bruche Bridge.

He was tied up, the gang stole his mailbags, beat him around the head, cut his throat and left him to drown in the brook.

Janice said: “Warrington was horrified by the crime, not least because Hogwarth’s widow was heavily pregnant.

“The post office offered a substantial reward of £200 (around £30,000 in today's money) for the robbery to prevent similar crimes against the vulnerable carriers of the Royal Mail.

“The reward posters, which had conflicting descriptions of the criminals, were widely circulated.

Warrington Guardian:

“There were two chief suspects: Thomas Fleming and Edward Miles, who ‘was morally certain to be one of the Mail Robbers’.

“Both men were linked to passing banknotes known to have been in Hogwarth’s mailbag and also being part of a gang counterfeiting money. Fleming was captured first, but was sentenced to death for a different highway robbery.

“Miles escaped capture until 1793 when he was put on trial at Lancaster Castle and found guilty of the charge of the Woolston robbery but not of murder.

“Much of the evidence against him was circumstantial but his counterfeiting activities alone made him a villain who deserved the death penalty.

“He was hanged at Lancaster and his body was taken back to Woolston, coated in tar to preserve it and hung in chains on a wooden gibbet frame to act as a deterrent to other highway robbers.

“In fact, it was the eerie noise of the gibbet swinging in the wind and the grisly sight of Miles’ bones exposed by wildlife as they rode past it on a dark night that prompted the post boys to ask for its removal.

“Around 50 years later the gibbet irons were taken to nearby Bruche Hall and kept in the stables until they were taken to Warrington Museum by William Beamont.”

The crime was immortalised in the area.

The Highwayman Pub, which was much loved but now gone, was built close to the scene of the crime