The Fight at Salcey Green

Hanslope and District Historical Society

Alexander McKay, champion of Scotland, fought Simon Byrne, an Irishman, at Salcey Green on the 2nd June 1830.

The fight itself was to have taken place in Hanslope, probably by the Watts Arms. However, Thomas Evans, the Parish Constable, was called upon to prevent the match. So the location was moved to Salcey Green, a few hundred yards inside Northants.

After 47 rounds of bare-knuckle fighting, McKay was unconscious and was attended by Mr James Heygate, a surgeon living at Hanslope. He bled McKay upon the field, had him taken to a carriage and then back to the Watts Arms. The boxer died there the next day at 9 o’clock in the evening.

A few days later Simon Byrne was arrested for McKay’s murder and the trial was held at the Buckingham Assizes. The jury took only ten minutes to return a verdict of not guilty which was received with “the loudest and most boisterous acclamation”.

Byrne’s triumph was short-lived. Three years later he died in St Albans after the longest recorded prizefight. A plaque in the Watts Arms commemorated the fight and the careers of both men.

The Fight at Salcey Green