Hanging

in difficulties. A man who is in great straits, and who is, therefore, prepared to do anything desperate to retrieve his fortunes, is said, among sporting men, to be “a man hanging ,” i.e., a man to whom any change must be for the better.

A LINE FOR THE OTHER WORLD.

A felon who was just on the point of being turned off, asked the hangman if he had any message to send to the place where he was going? “I will trouble you with a line ,” replied the finisher of the law, placing the cord under his left ear.

 Hanging

Loosen the cord, or whatever it may be by which the person has been suspended. Open the temporal artery or jugular vein, or bleed from the arm; employ electricity, if at hand, and proceed as for drowning, taking the additional precaution to apply eight or ten leeches to the temples. 


Hanging

THE  usual mode of capital punishment in England for many centuries has been, and still is, hanging. Other means of execution have been exercised, but none have been so general as death at the hands of the hangman. In the Middle Ages every town, abbey, and nearly all the more important manorial lords had the right of hanging, and the gallows was to be seen almost everywhere.

Representatives of the church often possessed rights in respect to the gallows and its victims. William the Conqueror invested the Abbot of Battle Abbey with authority to save the life of any malefactor he might find about to be executed, and whose life he wished to spare. In the days of Edward I. the Abbot of Peterborough set up a gallows at Collingham, Nottinghamshire, and hanged thereon a thief. This proceeding came under the notice of the Bishop of Lincoln, who, with considerable warmth of temper, declared the Abbot had usurped his rights, since he held from the king's predecessors the liberty of the Wapentake of Collingham and the right of executing criminals. The Abbot declared that Henry III. had given him and his successors "Infangthefe and Utfangthefe in all his hundreds and demesnes." After investigation it was decided that the Abbot was in the wrong, and he was directed to take down the gallows he had erected. One, and perhaps the chief reason of the prelate being so particular to retain his privileges was on account of its entitling him to the chattels of the condemned man.

Little regard was paid for human life in the reign of Edward I. In the year 1279, not fewer than two hundred and eighty Jews were hanged for clipping coin, a crime which has brought many to the gallows. The following historic story shows how slight an offence led to death in this monarch's time. In 1285, at the solicitation of Quivil, the Bishop of Exeter, Edward I. visited Exeter to enquire into the circumstances relating to the assassination of Walter Lichdale, a precentor of the cathedral, who had been killed one day when returning from matins. The murderer made his escape during the night and could not be found. The Mayor, Alfred Dunport, who had held the office on eight occasions, and the porter of the Southgate, were both tried and found guilty of a neglect of duty in omitting to fasten the town gate, by which means the murderer escaped from the hands of justice. Both men were condemned to death, and afterwards executed. The unfortunate mayor and porter had not anything to do with the death of the precentor, their only crime being that of not closing the city gate at night, a truly hard fate for neglect of duty.

A hanging reign was that of Henry VIII. It extended over thirty-seven years, and during that period it is recorded by Stow that 72,000 criminals were executed.

In bygone times were observed some curious ordinances for the conduct of the Court of Admiralty of the Humber. Enumerated are the various offences of a maritime character, and their punishment. In view of the character of the court, the punishment was generally to be inflicted at low-water mark, so as to be within the proper jurisdiction of the Admiralty, the chief officer of which, the Admiral of the Humber, being from the year 1451, the Mayor of Hull. The court being met, and consisting of "masters, merchants, and mariners, with all others that do enjoy the King's stream with hook, net, or any engine," were addressed as follows: "You masters of the quest, if you, or any of you, discover or disclose anything of the King's secret counsel, or of the counsel of your fellows (for the present you are admitted to be the King's Counsellors), you are to be, and shall be, had down to the low-water mark, where must be made three times, O Yes! for the King, and then and there this punishment, by the law prescribed, shall be executed upon them; that is, their hands and feet bound, their throats cut, their tongues pulled out, and their bodies thrown into the sea." The ordinances which they were bound to observe, include the following: "You shall inquire, whether any man in port or creek have stolen any ropes, nets, cords, etc., amounting to the value of ninepence; if he have, he must be hanged for the said crimes, at low-water mark." "If any person has removed the anchor of any ships, without licence of the master or mariners, or both, or if anyone cuts the cable of a ship at anchor, or removes or cuts away a buoy; for any of the said offences, he shall be hanged at low-water mark." "All breakers open of chests, or pickers of locks, coffers, or chests, etc., on shipboard, if under the value of one and twenty pence, they shall suffer forty days' imprisonment; but, if above, they must be hanged as aforesaid." "If any loderman takes upon himself the rule of any ship, and she perishes through his carelessness and negligence, if he comes to land alive with two of his company, they two may chop off his head without any further suit with the King or his Admiralty." The sailor element of the population of the olden days was undeniably rude and refractory, the above rules showing that the authorities needed stern and swift measures to repress evildoers of that class.

A curious Derbyshire story is told, taking us back to Tudor times, illustrating the strange superstitions and the power exercised by the nobility in that era. Some three hundred years ago the Peak of Derbyshire was ruled by the iron hand of Sir George Vernon, who, from the boundless magnificence of his hospitality at the famous Hall of Haddon, was known throughout the country round as the "King of the Peak." His "kingly"character was further supported by the stern severity with which he dealt with all cases of dispute or crime that came before him, even when human life was concerned; though it must be added, that if strict, he was also just. The following is an instance of his arbitrary and decisive manner of dealing with the lives of those who came beneath his control, and shows his fondness for the exercise of the summary processes of lynch-law. A wandering pedlar was one morning found dead in an unfrequented part, evidently murdered. He had been hawking his goods about the neighbourhood the previous day, and was in the evening observed to enter a certain cottage, and after that was not again seen alive. No sooner had Sir George Vernon become acquainted with these facts than he caused the body to be conveyed to the hall, where it was laid. The man occupying the cottage where the pedlar had last been seen alive was then summoned to attend at the hall immediately, and on arriving was met by the question, what had become of the pedlar who had gone into his cottage on the previous evening? The fellow repudiated any knowledge of him whatever, when the "King of the Peak" turned round, drew off the sheet which had been placed over the dead body, and ordered that everyone present should successively approach and touch it, declaring at the same time each his innocence of the foul murder. The cottar, who had retained his effrontery until now, shrank from the ordeal, and declined to touch the body, running at once out of the hall, through Bakewell village, in the direction of Ashford. Sir George, coming, as he well might, to the conclusion that the suspicions which had pointed to this man had been well founded, ordered his men to take horse and pursue the murderer, and, overtaking him, to hang him on the spot. They did so; he was caught in a field opposite to where the toll-bar of Ashford stood, and there instantly hanged. The field is still called "Galley Acre," or "Gallows Acre," on this account. It is stated that for this exercise of his powers in summary justice Sir George was called upon to appear at London and answer for the act. When he appeared in court he was the first and second time summoned to surrender as the "King of the Peak," but not replying to these, the third time he was called by his proper title of Sir George Vernon, upon which he acknowledged his presence, stepping forward and crying "Here am I." The indictment having been made out against him under the title of "King of the Peak" it was of no effect, and the worst consequence to Sir George was that he received an admonition. He died in 1567, the possessor of thirty Derbyshire manors, and was buried in Bakewell Church, where his altar tomb remains to this day.

Out of the beaten track of the tourist are the gallows at Melton Ross, Lincolnshire, with their romantic history going back to the time when might and not right ruled the land. According to a legend current among the country folk in the locality long, long ago, some lads were playing at hanging, and trying who could hang the longest. One of the boys had suspended himself from a tree when the attention of his mates was attracted by the appearance on the scene of a three-legged hare (the devil), which came limping past. The lads tried to catch him, and in their eager pursuit forgot the critical position of their companion, and on their return found him dead. The gallows is believed by many to have been erected in remembrance of this event.

The story has no foundation in fact. A hare crossing is regarded not only in Lincolnshire, and other parts of England, but in many countries of the world, as indicating trouble to follow.

THE GALLOWS AT MELTON ROSS.

In the days of old two notable men held lands in the district, Robert Tyrwhitt of Kettleby and Sir William Ross of Melton, and between them was a deadly feud, the outcome, in 1411, of a slight and obscure question on manorial rights. It was alleged that John Rate, steward of Sir William Ross, had trespassed on lands at Wrawby belonging to Robert Tyrwhitt, digged and taken away turves for firing, felled trees, and cut down brushwood. The dispute was tried by Sir William Gascoigne, but it would appear that this did not altogether meet the requirements of Tyrwhitt. He assembled his men in large numbers and a fight took place with the retainers of Sir William Ross. An action of this kind could not be tolerated even in a lawless age, and the matter was brought before parliament. After long and careful consideration, it was decided that Tyrwhitt was in the wrong, and in the most abject manner he had to beg the pardon of Sir William Ross, but we are told it was merely "lip service."

The hatred of the two families was transmitted from sire to son until the reign of James I., and then it broke out in open warfare. A battle was fought at Melton Ross between the followers of Tyrwhitt and those of the Earl of Rutland, the representative of the Ross family. In the struggle several servants were slain, and the king adopted stringent measures to prevent future bloodshed. He directed, so says tradition, that a gallows be erected at Melton Ross, and kept up for ever, and that if any more deaths should result from the old feud it should be regarded as murder, and those by whom the deadly deed was committed were to be executed on the gallows.

We hear nothing more of the feud after the gallows had been erected, the action of the king being the means of settling a strife which had lasted long and kept the district in turmoil.

The gallows is on the estate of the Earl of Yarborough, and it has been renewed by him, and according to popular belief he is obliged to prevent it falling into decay.

Gallows Customs

When criminals were carried to Tyburn for execution, it was customary for the mournful procession to stop at the Hospital of St. Giles in the Fields, and there the malefactors were presented with a glass of ale. After the hospital was dissolved the custom was continued at a public-house in the neighbourhood, and seldom did a cart pass on the way to the gallows without the culprits being refreshed with a parting draught. Parton, in his "History of the Parish," published in 1822, makes mention of a public-house bearing the sign of "The Bowl," which stood between the end of St. Giles's High Street, and Hog Lane.

Particulars are given by Pennant and other writers of a similar custom being maintained at York. It gave rise to the saying, that "The saddler of Bawtry was hanged for leaving his liquor": had he stopped, as was usual with other criminals, to drink his bowl of ale, his reprieve, which was actually on its way, would have arrived in time to save his life.

Robert Dowe, a worthy citizen of London, gave to the vicar and churchwardens of St. Sepulchre's Church, London, fifty pounds, on the understanding that through all futurity they should cause to be tolled the big bell the night before the execution of the condemned criminals in the prison of Newgate. After tolling the bell, the sexton came at midnight, and after ringing a hand-bell, repeated the following lines:—

"All you that in the condemned hold do lie,Prepare you, for to-morrow you shall die:Watch all and pray; the hour is drawing near That you before the Almighty must appear;Examine well yourselves: in time repent,That you may not to eternal flames be sent;And when St. Sepulchre's bell to-morrow tolls,The Lord above have mercy on your souls!"

Next morning, when the sad procession passed the church on its way to Tyburn, a brief pause was made at the gate of St. Sepulchre's Church, and the clergyman said prayers for the unfortunate criminals, and at the same time the passing-bell tolled its mournful notes.

According to a notice in a recent book by the Rev. A. G. B. Atkinson, Robert Dowe was a merchant tailor, and a benefactor; he assisted John Stow and others. Dowe was born 1522, and died 1612.[1]

Not a few of the highwaymen who ended their careers at the gallows appear to have been dandies. Swift gives us a picture of one in "Clever Tom Clinch." He says:—

"... While the rabble was bawling,Rode stately through Holborn to die of his calling;He stopped at the George for a bottle of sack,And promised to pay for it—when he came back.His waistcoat and stockings and breeches were white,His cap had a new cherry ribbon to tie't:And the maids at doors and the balconies ran And cried 'Lack-a-day! he's a proper young man!'"

On January 21st, 1670, was hanged Claude Duval, a great favourite with the ladies. It is said that ladies of quality, in masks and with tears, witnessed his execution and that he lay in more than royal state at Tangier Tavern, St. Giles's. His epitaph in the centre aisle of St. Paul's, Covent Garden, may be regarded as a model for highwaymen:—

"Here lies Du Vall: reader, if male thou art,Look to thy purse; if female to thy heart."

Sixteen-string Jack, hanged on November 30th, 1774, was dressed in a "bright pea-green coat, and displayed an immense nosegay."

Frequently rioting occurred at executions, and unpopular criminals would be pelted with missiles, and meet with other indications of disfavour, but usually the sympathies of the populace were with the culprit. Attempts at rescuing criminals would sometimes be made, and soldiers had to be present to ensure order. On the 19th August, 1763, it is stated in "The Annual Register," "A terrible storm made such an impression on the ignorant populace assembled to see a criminal executed on Kennington Common, that the sheriff was obliged to apply to the secretaries of state for a military force to prevent a rescue, and it was near eight o'clock in the evening before he suffered."

Another practice appears to have been to carry the body of an executed criminal to the doors of those who had been the chief cause of the criminal being brought to justice. We read in "The Annual Register," for 1763. "As soon as the execution of several criminals, condemned at last sessions of the Old Bailey, was over at Tyburn, the body of Cornelius Sanders, executed for stealing about fifty pounds out of the house of Mrs. White, in Lamb Street, Spitalfields, was carried and laid before her door, where great numbers of people assembling, they at last grew so outrageous that a guard of soldiers was sent for to stop their proceedings; notwithstanding which, they forced open the door, pitched out all the salmon-tubs, most of the household furniture, piled them on a heap, and set fire to them, and, to prevent the guards from extinguishing the flames, pelted them off with stones, and would not disperse till the whole was consumed." In the same work for the following year another instance is given. "The criminal," says the record, "condemned for returning from transportation at the sessions, and afterwards executed, addressed himself to the populace at Tyburn, and told them he could wish they would carry his body and lay it at the door of Mr. Parker, a butcher in the Minories, who, it seems, was the principal evidence against him; which, being accordingly done, the mob behaved so riotously before the man's house, that it was no easy matter to disperse them."

Curiosities of the Gallows

Instances are not wanting of criminals being driven in their own carriages to the place of execution. The story of William Andrew Horne, a Derbyshire squire, as given in the "Nottingham Date Book," is one of the most revolting records of villainy that has come under our notice. His long career of crime closed on his seventy-fourth birthday, in 1759, at the gallows, Nottingham. He had committed more than one murder, but was tried for the death of an illegitimate child of which he was the father. His brother laid the information which at last brought him to justice. This brother requested him to give him a small sum of money so that he might leave the country, but he refused to comply. He then said he should make known his crime, but that did not frighten Horne. He replied, "I'll chance it," and this gave rise to a well-known saying in the Midlands, "I'll chance it as Horne did his neck." He was hanged at Gallows-Hill, Nottingham, and was driven in his carriage by his own coachman. We are told as the gloomy procession ascended the Mansfield Road the white locks of the hoary sinner streamed mournfully in the wind, his head being uncovered and the vehicle open, and the day very tempestuous. He met his doom with a considerable degree of fortitude, in the presence of an immense crowd of spectators, including hundreds of his Derbyshire neighbours and tenantry.[2]

A year later Earl Ferrers was hanged for the shooting of his own steward. On May 5th, 1760, he was driven from the Tower to Tyburn in a landau drawn by six horses. His lordship was attired in his wedding clothes, which were of a light colour and richly embroidered in silver. He was hanged with a silken rope, and instead of being swung into eternity from a common cart, a scaffold was erected under the gallows, which we think may be regarded as the precursor of the drop. Mr. T. Broadbent Trowsdale contributed to "Bygone Leicestershire" an informing paper on "Laurence Ferrers: the Murderer-Earl."[3] We reproduce an illustration of the execution from a print of the period.

Some interesting details occur in Notes and Queries  for May 28th, 1898, respecting "The Colleen Bawn." It is stated that when John Scanlan had been found guilty of the murder of Ellen Hanley, the gentry of the county of Limerick petitioned for a reprieve, which was refused. They next requested that Scanlan be hanged with a silken cord, though whether for its greater dignity or because it offered a possibility of more rapid strangulation in short drop, we cannot tell. The Lord Lieutenant thought hemp would serve the purpose. According to Haydn's "Dictionary of Dates," Scanlan was executed 14th March, 1820.

EXECUTION OF EARL FERRERS AT TYBURN.
(From a print of the period.)

Mr. Gordon Fraser, of Wigtown, has collected much interesting local lore respecting the town, which was made a royal burgh in 1341. In bygone times it had the distinction of having its own public executioner. According to traditional accounts he held office on somewhat peculiar conditions. The law was, we are told, that this functionary was himself to be a criminal under sentence of death, but whose doom was to be deferred until the advance of age prevented a continuance of his usefulness, and then he was to be hanged forthwith. If, it was said, the town permitted the executioner to die by the ordinary decay of nature, and not by the process of the cord, it would lose for ever the distinguished honour of possessing a public hangman. The story of the last official who held the tenure of his life upon being able to efficiently despatch his fellows is sufficiently interesting. He was taken ill, and it was seriously contemplated to make sure of having a public hangman in the future by seizing the sick man and hanging him. His friends, hearing of this intention, propped the dying Ketch up in bed, and he, being by trade a shoemaker, had the tools and materials of his trade placed before him. He made a pretence of plying his avocation, and the townsmen, thinking his lease of life was in no danger of a natural termination, allowed him to lie in peace. He then speedily passed away quietly in his bed, and the outwitted burghers found themselves without a hangman, and without hope of a successor.

A good story is told by Mr. Fraser of the last man hanged at Wigtown. His name was Patrick Clanachan, and he was tried and found guilty of horse-stealing. His doom was thus pronounced:—"That he be taken on the 31st August, 1709, between the hours of twelve and two in the afternoon, to the gyppet at Wigtown, and there to hang till he was dead." Clanachan was carried from the prison to the gallows on a hurdle, and, as the people were hurrying on past him to witness his execution, he is said to have remarked, "Tak' yer time, boys, there'll be nae fun till I gang." We have heard a similar anecdote respecting a criminal in London.

At Wicklow, in the year 1738, a man named George Manley was hanged for murder, and just before his execution he delivered an address to the crowd, as follows: "My friends, you assemble to see—what? A man leap into the abyss of death! Look, and you will see me go with as much courage as Curtius, when he leaped into the gulf to save his country from destruction. What will you say of me? You say that no man, without virtue, can be courageous! You see what I am—I'm a little fellow. What is the difference between running into a poor man's debt, and by the power of gold, or any other privilege, prevent him from obtaining his right, and clapping a pistol to a man's breast, and taking from him his purse? Yet the one shall thereby obtain a coach, and honour, and titles; the other, what?—a cart and a rope. Don't imagine from all this that I am hardened. I acknowledge the just judgment of God has overtaken me. My Redeemer knows that murder was far from my heart, and what I did was through rage and passion, being provoked by the deceased. Take warning, my comrades; think what would I now give that I had lived another life. Courageous? You'll say I've killed a man. Marlborough killed his thousands, and Alexander his millions. Marlborough and Alexander, and many others, who have done the like, are famous in history for great men. Aye—that's the case—one solitary man. I'm a little murderer and must be hanged. Marlborough and Alexander plundered countries; they were great men. I ran in debt with the ale-wife. I must be hanged. How many men were lost in Italy, and upon the Rhine, during the last war for settling a king in Poland. Both sides could not be in the right! They are great men; but I killed a solitary man."

It will be seen from the following account, that in the olden time the cost and trouble attending an execution was a serious matter:—

To the Right Honourable the Lord Commissioners of His Majesty's Treasury.

The humble petition of Ralph Griffin, Esq., High Sheriff of the County of Flint, for the present year, 1769, concerning the execution of Edward Edwards, for burglary:—

Sheweth.

That your petitioner was at great difficulty and expense by himself, his clerks, and other messengers and agents he employed in journeys to Liverpool and Shrewsbury, to hire an executioner; the convict being of Wales it was almost impossible to procure any of that country to undertake the execution.

£s.d.
Travelling and other expenses on that occasion 15 10 0
A man at Salop engaged to do this business. Gave him in part 5 5 0
Two men for conducting him, and for their search of him on his deserting from them on the road, and charges on inquiring for another executioner 4 10 0
After much trouble and expense, John Babington, a convict in the same prison with Edwards, was by means of his wife prevailed on to execute his fellow-prisoner. Gave to the wife 6 6 0
And to Babington 6 6 0
Paid for erecting a gallows, materials, and labour: a business very difficult to be done in this country 4 12 0
For the hire of a cart to convey the body, a coffin, and for the burial 2 10 0
And for other expenses, trouble, and petty expenses, on the occasion at least 5 0 0
Total £49 19 0

Which humbly hope your lordships will please to allow your petitioner, who, etc.

Feasting at funerals in past time was by no means uncommon in Great Britain, and perhaps still lingers in some of the remoter parts of the country. In Scotland until the commencement of the present century before or after executions, civic feasts were often held. After every execution, at Paisley, says the Rev. Charles Rogers, ll.d., the authorities had a municipal dinner. Thomas Potts was hanged at Paisley, 1797, at a cost to the town of £33 5s. 3½d., of which the sum of £13 8s. 10d. was expended on a civic feast, and £1 14s. 3d. on the entertainment of the executioner and his assistants. At Edinburgh, the evening prior to an execution, the magistrates met at Paxton's Tavern, in the Exchange, and made their arrangements over liquor. These gatherings were known as "splicing the rope."[4]

During the distress which, owing to the scanty harvests of the later years of the last century, prevailed throughout the country, but more especially in the north, attention was drawn to an extremely curious privilege claimed by the public executioner of Dumfries. From old times a considerable portion of the remuneration for his hanging services was in kind, and levied in the following manner. When the farmers and others had set out in the public market their produce of meal, potatoes, and similar provender, the hangman, walking along the row of sacks, thrust into each a large iron ladle, and put the result of each "dip" into his own sack. This tax, from the odious occupation of the collector, was regarded by the farmers and factors with particular abhorrence, and numerous attempts were made at different periods to put a stop to the grievous exaction, but the progress of public opinion was so little advanced, and the regard for the ancient trammels of feudal arbitrariness so deep-seated, that not until 1781 was any serious resistance made. In that year a person named Johnston stood upon what he considered his rights, and would allow no acquaintance to be made between his meal and the iron ladle of the Dumfries hangman. The latter, seeing in this the subversion of every fundamental principle of social order, to say nothing of the loss threatened to his means of subsistence, carried his complaint to the magistrates. Consequently the Dumfries Hampden was forthwith haled to prison. He was not, however, long detained there, as his judges were made aware by his threats of action for false imprisonment that they were unaware of the position in which they and the impost stood in the eyes of the law. To remedy this ignorance, and be fore-armed for other cases of resistance, which it was not unlikely to suppose would follow, the Corporation of Dumfries, in the year we have mentioned, hadrecourse to legal advice. That they obtained was of the highest standing, as they applied to no less a personage than Andrew Crosbie, the eminent advocate, who has been immortalised in the Pleydell of "Guy Mannering." It will be interesting to quote from the document laid before him on this occasion, containing as it does several particulars about the hangman of the town. One part describes the office, duties, and pay of the hangman, "who executes not only the sentences pronounced by the magistrates of the burgh, and of the King's judges on their circuits, but also the sentences of the sheriff, and of the justices of the peace at their quarter sessions. The town has been in use to pay his house rent, and a salary over and above. Roger Wilson, the present executioner, has, since he was admitted, received from the town £6 of salary, and £1 13s. 4d. for a house rent. Over and above this salary and rent, he and his predecessors have been in use of levying and receiving weekly (to wit each market day, being Wednesday,) the full of an iron ladle out of each sack of meal, pease, beans, and potatoes, and the same as to flounders." The history of the impost is next very briefly dealt with, the gist of the information on the subject being that the tax had been levied from a period beyond the memory of the "oldest people" without quarrel or dispute. That the resistance of Johnston was not an isolated instance we likewise learn from this statement of the case, for it says "there appears a fixed resolution and conspiracy to resist and forcibly obstruct the levy of this usual custom," and as the result of the tax according to the executioner's own version amounted to more than £13 annually, it was of sufficient moment to make sound advice desirable. The opinion of Crosbie was that rights obtained by virtue of office, and exercised from time out of mind, were legal, and might very justly be enforced. While commending the imprisonment of the dealer Johnston, he suggested that the process of collection should be made more formal than appears to have been the case in this instance. Officers should assist Jack Ketch in his rôle  of tax-gatherer, and all preventers should be formally tried by the magistrates. The tax continued to be levied. The farmers either gave up their meal grudgingly, or, refusing, were sent to gaol. In 1796, when the towns-people were in the utmost need of food, riots and tumults arose in Dumfries, and as one means of allaying the popular frenzy it was proposed by the leading member of the Corporation, Provost Haig, that the ladle's harvest should be abolished, and his recommendation was immediately put into effect. The hangman of Dumfries was then one Joseph Tate, who was the last of the officers of the noose connected officially with Dumfries; for the loss of his perquisite he was allowed the sum of £2 yearly. It is satisfactory to learn that the ladle itself, the only substantial relic of this curious custom, is, in all probability preserved at the present time. A footnote in W. McDowall's valuable "History of Dumfries," says: "The Dumfries hangman's ladle is still to be seen we believe among other 'auld nick-nackets' at Abbotsford." It was for many years lost sight of, till in 1818, Mr. Joseph Train, the zealous antiquary, hunted it out, and, all rusty as it was, sent it as a present to Sir Walter Scott.[5]

Horrors of the Gallows

From the following paragraph, drawn from the Derby Mercury  of April 6th, 1738, we have a striking example of how deplorable was the conduct of the hangman in the olden time. It is by no means a solitary instance of it being mainly caused through drinking too freely:—

"Hereford, March 25. This day Will Summers and Tipping were executed here for house-breaking. At the tree, the hangman was intoxicated with liquor, and supposing that there were three for execution, was going to put one of the ropes round the parson's neck, as he stood in the cart, and was with much difficulty prevented by the gaoler from so doing."

In bygone times, capital punishment formed an important feature in the every-day life, and was resorted to much more than it now is, for in those "good old times" little regard was paid for human life. People were executed for slight offences. The painful story related by Charles Dickens, in the preface to "Barnaby Rudge," is an example of many which might be mentioned. It appears that the husband of a young woman had been taken from her by the press-gang, and that she, in a time of sore distress, with a babe at her breast, was caught stealing a shilling's worth of lace from a shop in Ludgate Hill, London. The poor woman was tried, found guilty of the offence, and suffered death on the gallows.

We have copied from a memorial in the ancient burial ground of St. Mary's Church, Bury St. Edmunds, the following inscription which tells a sad story of the low value placed on human life at the close of the eighteenth century:—

Reader ,
Pause at this humble stone it records
The fall of unguarded youth by the allurements of
vice and the treacherous snares of seduction.
SARAH LLOYD.
On the 23rd April, 1800, in the 22nd year of her age,
Suffered a just and ignominious death.
For admitting her abandoned seducer in the
dwelling-house of her mistress, on the 3rd of
October, 1799, and becoming the instrument in
his hands of the crime of robbery and
housebreaking.
These were her last words:
"May my example be a warning to thousands."
Mr. G. Cruikshank

Hanging persons was almost a daily occurrence in the earlier years of the present century, for forging notes, passing forged notes, and other crimes which we now almost regard with indifference. George Cruikshank claimed with the aid of his artistic skill to have been the means of putting an end to hanging for minor offences. Cruikshank, in a letter to his friend, Mr. Whitaker, furnishes full details bearing on the subject. "About the year 1817 or 1818," wrote Cruikshank, "there were one-pound Bank of England notes in circulation, and unfortunately there were forged one-pound bank notes in circulation also; and the punishment for passing these forged notes was in some cases transportation for life, and in others death.

"At that time, I resided in Dorset Street, Salisbury Square, Fleet Street, and had occasion to go early one morning to a house near the Bank of England; and in returning home between eight or nine o'clock, down Ludgate Hill, and seeing a number of persons looking up the Old Bailey, I looked that way myself, and saw several human beings hanging on the gibbet, opposite Newgate prison, and, to my horror, two of them were women; and upon enquiring what the women had been hung for, was informed that it was for passing forged one-pound notes. The fact that a poor woman could be put to death for such a minor offence had a great effect upon me, and I at once determined, if possible, to put a stop to this shocking destruction of life for merely obtaining a few shillings by fraud; and well knowing the habits of the low class of society in London, I felt quite sure that in very many cases the rascals who had forged the notes induced these poor ignorant women to go into the gin-shops to get 'something to drink,' and thus pass  the notes, and hand them the change.

BANK RESTRICTION NOTE/Specimen of a Bank Note—not to be imitated./Submitted to the Consideration of the Bank Directors and the inspection of the Public.

"My residence was a short distance from Ludgate Hill (Dorset Street); and after witnessing the tragic-scene, I went home, and in ten minutes designed and made a sketch of this 'Bank-note not to be imitated.' About half-an-hour after this was done, William Hone came into my room, and saw the sketch lying on my table; he was much struck with it, and said, 'What are you going to do with this, George?'

"'To publish it,' I replied. Then he said, 'Will you let me have it?' To his request I consented, made an etching of it, and it was published. Mr. Hone then resided on Ludgate Hill, not many yards from the spot where I had seen the people hanging on the gibbet; and when it appeared in his shop windows, it caused a great sensation, and the people gathered round his house in such numbers that the Lord Mayor had to send the City police (of that day) to disperse the crowd. The Bank directors held a meeting immediately upon the subject, and after that  they issued no more  one-pound notes, and so there was no more hanging for passing forged  one-pound notes ; not only that, but ultimately no hanging even for forgery. After this  Sir Robert Peel got a bill passed in Parliament for the 'Resumption of cash payments.' After this  he revised the Penal Code, and after that  there was not any more hanging or punishment of death  for minor offences." We are enabled, by the courtesy of Mr. Walter Hamilton, the author of a favourably-known life of Cruikshank, to reproduce a picture of the "Bank-note not to be imitated." In concluding his letter to Mr. Whitaker, Cruikshank said: "I consider it the most important design and etching that I have ever made in my life; for it has saved the life of thousands of my fellow-creatures; and for having been able to do this Christian act, I am, indeed, most sincerely thankful."


THE
BANK RESTRICTION BAROMETER;
OR, SCALE OF EFFECTS ON SOCIETY OF THE
Bank Note System, and Payments in Gold.
BY ABRAHAM FRANKLIN.

*** To be read from the words  "BANK RESTRICTION," in the middle, upwards or downwards.

NATIONAL PROSPERITY PROMOTED.

10. The Number of useless Public Executions diminished.
9. The Amelioration of the Criminal Code facilitated.
8. The Forgery of Bank Notes at an end.
7. Manufacturers and Journeymen obtain Necessaries and Comforts for their Wages.
6. The Means of Persons with small Incomes enlarged.
5. A Fall of Rents and Prices.
4. The Circulating Medium diminished.
3. Fictitious Capital and False Credit destroyed.
2. Exchanges equalized, and the Gold Coin preserved, if allowed to be freely exported.
1. The Gold Currency restored.

Consequences, if taken off, will be as above:—viz.

THE BANK RESTRICTION.

Consequences of its Operation are as follows:—viz.

1. Disappearance of the legal Gold Coin.
2. The Issues of Bank of England Notes and Country Bank Notes extended.
3. Paper Accommodation, creating False Credit, Fictitious Capital, Mischievous Speculation.
4. The Circulating Medium enormously enlarged.
5. Rents and Prices of Articles of the first Necessity doubled and trebled.
6. The Income and Wages of small Annuitants, and Artizans and Labourers, insufficient to purchase Necessaries for their Support.
7. Industry reduced to Indigence, broken-spirited, and in the Workhouse: or, endeavouring to preserve independence, lingering in despair, committing suicide, or dying broken-hearted.
8. The Temptation to forge Bank of England Notes increased and facilitated.
9. New and sanguinary Laws against Forgery ineffectually enacted.
10. Frequent and useless inflictions of the barbarous Punishment of Death.

GENERAL DISTRESS INCREASED.


At Nottingham in the olden time the culprits were usually taken to St. Mary's Church, where the officiating clergyman preached their funeral sermon. Next they would inspect their graves, and sometimes even test their capabilities by seeing if they were large enough to hold their remains. Frequently they would put on their shrouds, and in various ways try to show that they were indifferent to their impending fate. Then they would be conveyed on a cart also containing their coffin to the place of execution some distance from the prison.[6] Similar usages prevailed in other places.

Public executions always brought together a large gathering of men and women, not always of the lowest order, indeed many wealthy people attended. "The last person publicly executed at Northampton," says Mr. Christopher A. Markham, f.s.a., "was Elizabeth Pinckhard, who was found guilty of murdering her mother-in-law, and who was sentenced to death by Sir John Jervis, on the 27th February, 1852. As a rule all executions had taken place on a Monday, so a rumour was spread that the execution would take place on Monday, the 15th of March; accordingly the people came together in their thousands. They were, however, all disappointed; some of them said they wished they had the under-sheriff and they would let him know what it was to keep honest people in suspense; and one old lady said seriously that she should claim her expenses from the sheriff. However, on Tuesday, the 16th March, Mrs. Pinckhard was executed before animmense number of persons, estimated at ten thousand, the day fixed having by some means or other got known."[7] The conduct of the crowds which gathered before Newgate and other prisons was long a blot on the boasted civilisation of this country, and there can be little doubt that public executions had a baneful influence on the public.

It will not be without historical interest to state that the last execution for attempted murder was Martin Doyle, hanged at Chester, August 27th, 1861. By the Criminal Law Consolidation Act, passed 1861, death was confined to treason and wilful murder. The Act was passed before Doyle was put on trial, but (unfortunately for him) did not take effect until November 1st, 1861. Michael Barrett, author of the Fenian explosion at Clerkenwell, hanged at Newgate, May 26th, 1868, was the last person publicly executed in England. Thomas Wells (murderer of Mr. Walsh, station-master at Dover), hanged at Maidstone, August 13th, 1868, was the first person to be executed within a prison.

Footnotes:

[1]"St. Botolph, Aldgate: the Story of a City Parish," 1898.

[2]"The Nottingham Date Book," 1880.

[3]Andrews's "Bygone Leicestershire," 1892.

[4]Rogers's "Social Life in Scotland," 1884.

[5]McDowall's "History of Dumfries."

[6]Stevenson's "Bygone Nottinghamshire," 1893.

[7]Markham's "History of Ancient Punishments in Northamptonshire," 1886.