From the dark centuries of the Middle Ages to the 1960s in Britain, the criminal law executed felons and someone had to hang them.
Britain’s Most Notorious Hangmen
From the dark centuries of the Middle Ages to the 1960s in Britain, the criminal law executed felons and someone had to hang them. Britain has always been a land of gallows, and every town had its hanging post and local ‘turn off man.’ First these men were criminals doing the work to save their own necks, and then later they were specialists in the trade of judicial killing. From the late Victorian period, the public hangman became a professional, and in the twentieth century the mechanics of hanging were streamlined as the executioners became adept at their craft.
Britain’s Most Notorious Hangmen tells the stories of the men who worked with their deadly skills at Tyburn tree or at the scaffolds in the prison yards across the country. Most were steeled to do the work by drink, and many suffered deeply from their despised profession. Here the reader will find the tale of the real Jack Ketch, the cases of neck-stretchers from the drunks like Curry and Askern, to the local workers of the ropes, Throttler Smith and the celebrated Billington and Pierrepoint dynasty.
Along with some of the stories of famous killers such as William Palmer and James Bloomfield Rush, here are the bunglings, failures and desperate lives of the notorious hangmen, some who could entertain the vast crowds enjoying the show, and others who always faced the task as a terrible ordeal.