Execution of the Day – 2009 (part 20)

Adultery, such an emotive word. And it’s the theme of the week too, not least because we have the queen of adultery…literally.

For this week features Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII’s ill-fated second wife.

In her honour, we have a tale of two adulterers who met a similar fate to Mrs Tudor and, spookily, all their deaths were sealed by Thomases.

But first, let us take you to deepest Hampshire, where there’s a hill by the name of Combe Down, accessed by the ominous sounding Gallows Lane. And it’s with good reason.

Double trouble

For it’s not really a hill but a neolithic burial mound, and fittingly, atop this deathly destination, is a double gibbet, a stark and solitary reminder of Britain’s bloody past.

It was erected in 1676 and was reserved for just two individuals – George Broomham and his bit of stuff, Dorothy Newham.

This louche and lusty couple were found guilty of double murder, after they bludgeoned Broomham’s wife and son to death on the seemingly remote hill.

But little did they know, they’d been seen.

Of course, while Boleyn’s blood was on the hands of one Thomas Cromwell, these murderers were also sentenced to death thanks to another Thomas – ‘Mad Thomas’ to be exact.

A mad affair

Their fates hanged on the strength of the most questionable testimony in the area, quite literally.

But believe ‘Mad Thomas’ the judge did, and Broomham and Newham were found guilty at Winchester Assizes. They were strung up in 1676 in a double gallows made exclusively for the murderous pair.

To this day, the owner of the land volunteers to maintain the upkeep of the gallows, which stands as a reminder to all of the criminal duo’s demise.

And talking of crims, here’s a whole raft of ’em for your delectation, including Anne Boleyn.

14 May 1914 – Joseph Spooner
Joseph Spooner hit the gallows for killing his own kin in 1914. He was found guilty of murder after he targeted his daughter, Elizabeth. Spooner hanged for his crimes at Liverpool, aged 42.

Eppelein-von-Gailingen15 May 1381 – Eppelein von Gailingen
We head to Medieval Germany for today’s gruesome execution. It’s a tall tale about Eppelein von Gailingen – a baron who was having trouble holding on to his castle in the heartlands of Nuremburg.

16 May 1994 – John Thanos
‘Adios’ said an unrepentant triple murderer as he was strapped to the gurney today in 1994. This was Maryland’s first execution since the penalty was resurrected in 1976 and it was reserved for John Frederick Thanos after he muscled his way to the front of the queue by waiving his rights to appeal.

Joseph-Mad-Dog-Taborsky17 May 1960 – Joseph “Mad Dog” Taborsky
Cornell has really been churning out the mass murderers. Our second ivy-league educated inmate of the month got fried today in Connecticut at the start of the swinging ‘60s. Joseph ‘Mad Dog’ Taborsky’s grisly exploits earned him not only the nickname, but the electric chair too.

Dalton-Prejean18 May 1990 – Dalton Prejean
Even Europe waded into this one. We’re talking about the case of Dalton Prejean, who was a mere 17 years old when he committed the offence that was to end his life. Plenty of debate preceded the sentence being carried out but it was a callous crime – he’d shot a traffic cop in the face after all.

Anne-Boleyn19 May 1536 – Anne Boleyn
Adultery, incest and treason – if you want to get shot of your wife, those are pretty reasonable grounds for divorce. But when you’re the king of England (after another bit of skirt) more desperate measures may be in order.

Roger-Keith-Coleman20 May 1992 – Roger Keith Coleman
Despite pleas of innocence, Virginia was hell-bent on executing Roger Keith Coleman today in 1992. Coalminer Coleman was found guilty of rape and murder, after his sister-in-law was found stabbed to death.

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