Green’s Dictionary of Slang

triple tree n.

also fatal tree, fatal tripod, gallow(s) tree, gallus tree, sovereign tree, tree, triple trestle, wooden tree
[this giant three-cornered gallows, capable of dispatching 21 villains at a time, stands menacingly in the background of Hogarth’s 1747 engraving of a public hanging]

the gallows, orig. that sited at Tyburn, London; thus ext. to other gallows.

[UK] ‘Robin Hood Rescuing Will Stutly’ in Ritson Robin Hood (1832) II 108: Will Stutly hanged must be this day / On yonder gallows-tree.
[UK]Appius and Virginia in Farmer (1908) 41: Let Claudius for tyranny be hanged on a tree.
[UK]Nashe Death and Buriall of Martin Mar-Prelate in Works I (1883–4) 203: To take reall, and actuall possession, not of the single gibbet, but of the triple trestle, your vndouvbted inheritance.
[UK]Gesta Grayorum in J. Nichols Progresses and Processions of Queen Elizabeth (1823) III 336: Let him but once use the exercise of swingeing, and stretching himselfe uppon the soveraigne tree of Tiburnia.
N. Breton Pasquil’s Passe, and Passeth Not in Grosart (1879) I 9/1: The cursed fall into a fellons trippe, / And from the ladder by the rope to skippe, / Where execution makes the fatall tree.
[UK]Rowlands Knave of Hearts 78: Though pyrates exempted be / From fatall Tyburne’s wither’d tree, / They have an harbour to arrive, / Call’d Wapping, where as ill they thrive, / As those that ride up Holbourne-hill.
[UK]Dick of Devonshire in Bullen II (1883) V i: Ile rather suffer on the Gallow Tree.
[UK]J. Taylor ‘Necessitie of Hanging’ in Works (1869) II 133: Which after by a Cutpurse bought might be; / And make another iourney to the Tree.
[UK]R. Brome Jovial Crew I i: What they may do hereafter under a triple tree is much expected.
[UK]T. Randolph Hey for Honesty II iii: To shake hands from the ladder, and take leave Of their dear Chremylus at the fatal tree? [Ibid.] IV i: This is a rascal deserves to ride up Holborn, And take a pilgrimage to the triple tree, To dance in hemp Derrick’s coranto: Let’s choke him with Welsh parsley.
[UK]S. Marmion Soddered Citizen I iii: Ile nere be saved [...] for the fatall Tree, I shall.
[UK]Mercurious Caledonius 30 Jan., cited in Caledonian Mercury 13 Mar 18104/1: When these Carcasses [i.e of Oliver Cromwell et al] were at Tyburn, they were pull’d out of their Coffins and hang’d at the several angles of that Triple Tree, where they hung till the Sun was set; after which they were taken down, their heads cut off, and their loathsome Trunks thrown into a deep hole under the Gallows.
Wandring Whores Complaint 5: Are all the black trades of a gentleman Thief, / Who (though a good workman) is seldom set free, / Till he rides in a Cart to be Nuc’d on a Tree.
[UK]‘L.B.’ New Academy of Complements 205: All the black Trades of a Gentleman Thief; / Who though a good Workman, is seldom made free, / Till he rides on a Cart to be nooz’d on a Tree.
[UK] ‘Fitzharris, his Farewell to the World’ in Ebsworth Roxburghe Ballads (1885) V:1 45: What’s worse than injuring Sacred Majestie, / For which he suffer’d on the fatal Tree?
[UK]S. Wesley Maggots 125: He is a Fool that thinks it good / To laugh at all that’s made of Wood / And eke in time may lifted be / Unto the fatal wooden Tree.
[UK]Motteux (trans.) Rabelais IV xvi 291: That very hour, from an exalted triple tree, two of the honestest gentlemen in Catchpole-land had been made to cut a caper on nothing.
[UK]Cibber Love Makes a Man V i: I may come to the Tree, and sing a Stave or two with thee.
[UK]J. Shirley Triumph of Wit 181: He fell sick of a filching Fever, for which the Doctor of the Tripple-Tree applied the powerful Cordial of Hemp to his Jugular Vein, so that the strength of Application not being allayed in time, cast him into a dead Sleep, and for ever spoiled his drinking at the Boozing-ken.
[UK]N. Ward Vulgus Britannicus I 18: That e’ry pace the Rake might be / The nearer to the fatal Tree.
[UK]A. Smith Lives of Most Noted Highway-men, etc. I 190: Her Soul [...] had been dead and rotten in Trespasses and Sin, long before she made her Exit on the Triple-Tree.
[UK] in D’Urfey Pills to Purge Melancholy II 257: And when the jesuits you see, / Dangling upon the Tripple Tree.
‘John Sheppard’s Last Epistle’ in Dly Jrnl (London) 16 Nov. 1: I am ambled from Witt to the Tree, / As order’d by my sad Sentence.
[UK]Hist. of the Remarkable Life of John Sheppard 3: This she Lyon; who by the sequel will appear to have been a main loadstone in attracting of him up to the fatal Tree.
[UK]Defoe Street Robberies Considered 49: I think we have many Incorporated in their Companies as fit for the Tripple Tree, as any that have Grac’d that Structure.
Grub St Jrnl 6 Apr. 3/1: A very villain, void of grace and fear, / Take to the Road - an arrant Ruffian be, / And swing, at last, on Tyburn’s triple Tree.
[UK]C. Johnson Hist. of Highwaymen &c. 191: When he saw the fatal Tree, he wept, and wrang his Hands like a Child.
[UK]Trial of Charles Drew 40: When he came to the Tree, he expressed the utmost Reluctance at parting with Life driving off the fatal minute. [...] Then he was turned off.
[UK]Scots Mag. 7 May 24/1: Their lives shall vulgar villains end, / At Tyburn’s triple tree?
[UK]Oxford Jrnl 2 Feb. 3/1: On Thursday the 17th the pictorial Representation of a Gentleman formerly eminent for Honesty and Patriotism, was maliciously hung on the Triple Tree near Stephens-Green, Dublin.
[UK]Bloody Register I 132: If ev’ry rogue throughout the nation, / Should die like Hall, by suffocation, / Some now in chambers would in carts, / At Triple-tree receive deserts.
[UK]C. Crinkum AEnigmatical Repository 33: Thieves first were sentenc’d to be hung / Upon the fatal tree.
[UK]Leeds intelligencer 8 July 4/2: That auspicious morn, which [...] rewarded the great Triumvirs Hancock, Adams, Lee, with the high honours of the Triple Tree.
[UK]Derby Mercury 7 July 2/4: Jack Ketch’s Deputy, when he thought of being promoted to the chief command of the fatal tripod [etc.].
Gazetteer and New Daily Advertiser 29 Mar. 1/3: And would not a triple tree be as salutary a remedy for the one as a scrubbing-post is pleasant and convenient for the other.
[UK]Mr Thompson Female Amazon 11: This very identical fellow who was [...] rescued from the fatal tree.
[Ire] ‘The Irish Robber’s Adventure’ Irish Songster 3: Their sighs nor tears will not save me, / Nor keep me from the sad gallows tree.
[UK] ‘A London Ken-cracking Song’ Confessions of Thomas Mount 21: Would’nt it grieve your hearts to see / Five clever lads hung on a tree.
[UK]Sussex Advertiser 19 Apr. 3/3: 3,000 spectators [...] many of whom all the neighbouring trees [...] occupied, to obtain a more commanding view of [...] the fatal tree.
[UK]Sporting Mag. Sept. XXII 318/1: He said to the gaoler, he imagined that was the tree – pointing at it – that he was to die on.
[UK]Account of Mary M’Kinnon 52: About the age of thirty-three, I must die upon this fatal tree.
[UK]C.M. Westmacott Eng. Spy I 254: Dependent upon royal grace / Or triple tree of Tyburn.
Portfolio (London) 19 Nov. 59/2: Printers being the miserable sinners they are [...] there is a place [...] called ‘The fatal tree’ to which many of them come at last.
[UK]Lytton Paul Clifford II 100: First, a toast, – ‘May those who leap from a hedge never leap from a tree!’.
[UK](con. 1715) W.H. Ainsworth Jack Sheppard (1917) 55: tom waters, your doom is the triple tree.
[UK]‘Bon Gaultier’ ‘The Faking Boy to the Crap is Gone’ in Farmer Musa Pedestris (1896) 124: The faking boy ne’er spoke again, / For they pulled his legs from under. / And there he dangles on the tree, / That sort of love and bravery.
[US]C.G. Leland ‘Two Friends’ in Knickerbocker mag. Feb. 185/2: For whether I sink in the foaming flood, Or swing on the triple-tree, [...] Is all the same to me!
[UK] ‘Execution of Alice Holt’ in Henderson Victorian Street Ballads (1937) 35: A hanging for the mother’s sake / On Chester’s fatal tree.
[UK]London Standard 21 Nov. 3/7: The gallows tree [...] What lessons does it teach [...] To that foul crowd, who laugh aloud, Bneath the gallows-tree.
[UK]J. Greenwood Wilds of London (1881) 169: Let’s swear to be faithful, if such our end be, / And manfully drop, like ripe fruit, from the tree.
[UK]Star (Guernsey) 24 Feb. 4/1: But Tree, Old Tree of the Triple Bough / And the grisly Dreams that tend you / [...] / They may tug in line at your hempen twine [etc.].
M. Roberts Red Earth 289: If she lost it she ’ad to be ’ung in a gallus tree, ’ung by the neck till she was dead.
[UK]C.J.C. Hyne Filibusters 6: There’s no consolation prize to look for, except a platoon, or a cable of hempen tow, and a tree.
[UK]John O’London’s Weekly 7 Jan. 450/3: That sinister spot, at the junction of what are now the Bayswater Road and Edgeware Road, [stood] the Triple Tree, on which two notorious highway men had been hanged.
[UK]Exter & Plymouth Gaz. 20 Sept. 8/4: The Gallows Tree [...] Prisoners [...] have been strung up on trees near that spot where Mr Rosenthal was murders.
[UK](ref.to 1735) Cornishman 19 Jan. 3/8: In 1735 [...] the speech which the murderer made at the foot of the triple tree in Launceston.
[US]J. Mabus ‘Charlie Birger’ [lyrics] There’s many a poor boy hung from the gallows tree.