17 August 1785 – Elizabeth and Martin Taylor

Just three women had the dubious honour of being hanged at Newgate during its history as an execution site. And Elizabeth Taylor was one of them.

Taylor and her brother Martin were found guilty of theft after they stole from a shop and house in Highgate, London.

The thieving siblings broke into Samuel Hooker’s haberdashery shop and his house (where Taylor had previously worked as a servant) on the night of Sunday 7 May 1785. They managed to make off with tidy stash of stuff – around £200 worth of linens, lace, silver spoons and tableware.

They were hauled in front of the court at the Old Bailey and found guilty of their crimes. They were sentenced to die alongside six other prisoners.

Despite the early hour of 7:30am, there was quite a crowd. Apparently members of the audience cried ‘Hats off’ not because they were respectful of the condemned, but because the view was obscured thanks to the hat-wearing hordes.

The clutch of eight criminals was executed at the ‘New Drop’ gallows in Newgate. When the lever was pulled, the condemned would fall further than with other gallows, thus leaving less margin for error, in a bid to ensure that death came quickly.

Also on this day

17 August 1915 – George Marshall

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