Execution of the Day – 2009 (part 33)
13 August 1964 – Peter Allen and Gwynne Evans
The last two executions ever carried out in England occurred in two different places at precisely the same time today in 1964. The simultaneous hangings took place at Liverpool’s Walton prison and Strangeways in Manchester. Gwynne Owen Evans and Peter Allen had bludgeoned to death 53-year-old Jack West, while burgling his house.
14 August 1936 – Rainey Bethea
The last person to be executed in public in the US was 26-year-old Rainey Bethea. Just as well it was the last, because it was a real botched job. The rapist and murderer was hanged in Owensboro in Kentucky for the murder of Lischia Edwards. He targeted 70-year-old Edwards following a life full of petty crimes, such as theft and drunkenness.
15 August 1941 – Josef Jakobs
A German spy was forced to sit down to face his fate after he broke his ankle in the run-up to his execution. Corporal Josef Jakobs, a 43-year-old wartime double agent, was put in front of a firing squad of eight Scots guards in the Tower of London during the Second World War.
16 August 1756 – John Lander
Humanity obviously passed murderous Lieutenant John Lander by. He was hanged for his barbaric crimes against boys and animals in the mid-18th century. With a month’s wages weighing his pockets down, the Chatham-based soldier teamed up with another officer to blow their pay packets by larging it in London. They boarded a post-chaise and promptly ordered the post-boy to drive the horses at full speed or they’d impale him on a sword.
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.
18 August 1809 – Susan Grant
Susan Grant was prevented from coining it in after she was done for treason. She was hanged on this day for crime for the illegal making of money. Known as coining, this was where people would either scrape metals off existing coins or melt them down to make more coins. And so Grant was caught doing exactly that.
19 August 1919 – Boonpeng Heep Lek
The last public beheading in Thailand took place on this day in 1919 and it was reserved for Boonpeng Heep Lek. Thailand operated a particularly barbaric method, where the prisoner had to sit down fastened to a wooden cross.
That’s not all folks
You probably know him as the fabled writer. But did you know Aesop was executed? Hmmm… we didn’t either until now.
The year is 560BC – sadly we don’t have a precise date. Give us a break, we’ve done some serious digging to dish the dirt.
You see Aesop had a hard life. He was born with disabilities and had been relegated to a life of servitude to one Xanthus. And there he would have languished had he not had a phenomenal wit about him.
It’s all Greek to us
It is thought he was freed and went on to defend another in a court of law before spending time at the court of Croesus. He appeared to have a good life and a degree of responsibility.
But it was the deathly combo of Croesus and the law that was to do him in.
Some say he misappropriated a silver cup, while others say he siphoned off Croesus’s riches that were originally intended for Delphi. Whichever the story, the crime appeared to be theft.
And it is at Delphi that his actions caught up with him. And if his crime was the latter, the Delphinians would have been suitably narked.
A verdict of guilty was returned and they marched the 60ish-year-old up to the top of a cliff and unceremoniously pushed him off it.
Mind you, it could have been a whole lot worse…
Lost in translation
As for his legacy, the fables, it turns out these could well have got lost in translation. The rather didactic and dour stories were probably a lot more satirical and biting in his day, according to the Independent. Just the way we like ’em.