Hangman John Murdoch was 84 when he officiated at the execution of Archibald Hare, 25, on Friday, October 24th, 1851. Not surprisingly, given the executioner’s advanced age, the event was described as “a terrible spectacle.” After the lever was pulled, Hare dropped only two feet and writhed in agony as he tried to free his hands to grab the rope. Murdoch desperately pulled on the condemned man’s legs in order to kill him.

A crowd of 10,000 watched the botched execution – Murdoch’s last – outside Glasgow’s South Prison. Hare had stabbed to death Ronald McGregor during a drunken fight in Blantyre, Glasgow, but the crowd was particularly fascinated because it was believed Hare was a nephew of the infamous William Hare of the Burke and Hare crimes.