June 10, 1607 - Sir John Popham died on this day. He was one of the most powerful and feared men of his time.
As a child he was abducted by gypsies, and by the time he was a teenager he was surviving as a thief and highwayman. Ironically he would grow up to be a judge.
He worked his way up from Justice of the Peace to Lord Chief Justice. During his 15 years as the head of the highest court in England he presided over the trials of Mary Queen of Scots and Guy Fawkes. Sir Popham sentenced them (and many others) to death. He was particularly fond of having people drawn and quartered.
Historians assert that Sir Popham died a relatively normal death in bed. But legend has it that he perished in a gruesome accident, after being thrown from his horse and landing in a supposedly bottomless bog. As servants struggled in vain to reach him he sank ever so slowly into the ooze and drowned.
They say his body was never recovered, but on every New Year's Eve his ghost rises up from the bog and takes one step closer to the churchyard where his empty tomb awaits him.