An English Town is Known as 'Monkey Hangers' Because of the Stupidest War Legend

An English Town is Known as 'Monkey Hangers' Because of the Stupidest War Legend

Residents of lots of places have nicknames: People from Indiana are known as "Hoosiers," those from Wisconsin are "cheeseheads," Floridians are "the worst," etc. It's called a "demonym," which sounds a lot cooler than it usually is. Maybe the weirdest one, though, is Hartlepool, England, whose citizenship is called, with varying degrees of affection, "Monkey Hangers." How on Earth is such a nickname earned? Some kind of unfortunate zoo shenanigans? Nope. The truth is somehow both darker and wackier. Naturally, it involved the Napoleonic Wars.

Henri Félix Emmanuel Philippoteaux
Auguste Étienne François Mayer
Bill and Ted could have prevented this.

During that time, allegedly, a French ship got wrecked off the coast of Hartlepool, and the only survivor was a monkey dressed in a French military uniform. Why would the French military have a monkey, and why would they dress it up? Unclear. Presumably, militaring could get pretty dull in the 17 months of travel it took you to actually reach a battle. But the people of Hartlepool, who had never seen a French or a monkey, supposedly concluded that French spies must be particularly hairy and screechy, put him on trial, and when he "refused" to answer questions, he was executed. 

Wiki Commons
"Not so curious now, is ya, George?!"

Thanks to a popular song about the incident (they didn't have Beyonce back then, so they had to make do), Hartlepool's people have since become nicknamed "the Monkey Hangers."

Except, there's zero evidence the incident occurred. In fact, in the intervening years, people of various Scottish towns have attributed it to their neighbors because Scots gonna Scot -- but the people of Hartlepool have certainly leaned into it. More than one statue of the monkey has been erected, and their soccer team's mascot is "H'Angus the Monkey," who was once elected mayor.

It's kind of like if someone made up a rumor about you shitting your pants and then you started wearing t-shirts that said "Steve, The Pants Shitter" -- You may not have deserved it before, but you definitely do now.

Manna secretly loves Florida, but feel free to yell at her on Twitter anyway.

Top photo: Nicolas Pocock Wiki Commons

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