By this law, whoever commits theft in the liberty of Halifax is to be executed on the Halifax gibbet, a kind of guillotine.
At Hallifax the law so sharpe doth deale, That whoso more than thirteen pence doth steale, They have a jyn that wondrous quick and well Sends thieves all headless into heaven or hell.
Taylor (the Water Poet): Works, ii. (1630).
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894