WILLIAM MARWOOD: THE GENTLEMAN EXECUTIONER

Author: Mathews (Derek)
Year: 2010
Publisher: Fastprint Publishing (Peterborough)
Edition Details: 1st Edn.
Book Condition: As New
ISBN: 9781844268092
Price: 10.00
IN STOCK NOW
Softcover. I believe this to be a POD title. The life and executions of William Marwood, the Lincolnshire hangman, who introduced the long drop, the split trap door and a table of lengths of drops for instantaneous death at executions. William Marwood was a shoemaker from Horncastle who in 1869 made his mind up to become an executioner and eventually became the chief executioner for London and Middlesex from 1874 until 1883. He always said 'I am doing God's work according to the divine command and the law of the British crown. I do it simply as a matter of duty and as a Christian. I sleep soundly as a child in my bed and never am disturbed by phantoms. When I get out of bed on the morning of an execution I kneel down quietly and ask God's blessing on the work I have to do, and ask mercy for the prisoner, I have a sense of divine mission and a belief that regardless of what deeds the condemned man has perpetrated in his time, he deserves to be dispatched as painless as possible.' It was Marwood who set out a table of "drops", calculated by the weight of the condemned, of between six and 10 feet that, together with the careful placing of the knot under the left ear, would guarantee "almost instantaneous" unconsciousness with death following very rapidly thereafter. Marwood was the first English executioner to refine the "long drop" which was already being used in Ireland, it meant an end to the convulsions and struggling that witnesses saw before Marwood's time, when death occurred from strangulation. He was also credited with the invention of the split trapdoor. He dispatched 180 men and women during his 12yrs as executioner. Born of poor parents he became known throughout England and Ireland as the 'Gentleman Executioner'. He would tap his victims on the shoulder, shake them by the hand and say 'Come along with me I shall not hurt you'. In justice to Marwood it may, however, be stated that in many cases criminals are described as dying instantaneously by his method of execution; and instances are not wanting of the hard death by means of the short drop, as in Calcraft's day. Illus. + Appendices. 280pp. trade size softcover. Includes two loosely inserted related magazine articles. As New with no creasing to covers.

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