12 November 1660 – Thomas Harrison
When King Charles’s son Charles II was then put on the throne in 1660, it was on the understanding that all who’d been involved in deposing his father would be exonerated. Well…almost all.
The Declaration of Breda set out the ground rules for Charles II restoration to the throne on the proviso that all would be pardoned ‘ excepting only such persons as shall hereafter be excepted by Parliament…’
Of course Harrison was one such exception, because he was branded a ‘Regicide’ – a member of the group who’d actively killed King Charles I.
For that he was hauled across London from Newgate to Charing Cross where he was to die an agonisingly slow and painful death.
He was strung up by his neck then cut down before he had time to lose consciousness. Still conscious, the lower half of his body was then spliced open and his internal organs out and thrown onto a fire, before they cut off his head and quartered him. His bits were displayed around London.
Apparently he was conscious and aware right up until his head was detached. Samuel Pepys said of the event in his diary: ‘he looking as cheerful as any man could do in that condition. He was presently cut down, and his head and heart shown to the people, at which there was great shouts of joy… Thus it was my chance to see the King beheaded at White Hall, and to see the first blood shed in revenge for the blood of the King at Charing Cross.’