Execution of the Day – 2009 (part 42)

15 October 1917 – Mata Hari
It’s been ages since we had a really saucy little minx on the execution block. And today’s fruity-flavoured subject doesn’t get much saucier. Mata Hari, or Margaretha Zelle as she is more pedestrianly known, was in the firing line for the ropiest of reasons.

16 October 1793 – Marie Antoinette
Accusations of louche living and diamonds were to be the downfall of today’s supposedly dastardly damsel. Visions of a life rife with excesses fuelled 18th century Frenchmen to harangue their queen, Marie Antoinette, with accusations of crimes against the proletariat; supposed crimes that were ultimately to turn a nation against her.

17 October 2007 – a Cambodian cow
Apparently a serial killer cow was executed on 17 October 2007 in Phnom Penh, following a murderous rampage. The bovine’s brush with the law came after the cow escaped only to become a catalist to udder chaos. It roamed free on the roads on the outskirts of the Cambodian capital, with fatal consequences.

18 October 1917 – William Alexander
The First World War claimed many lives on the battlefields, and for that their memories are held dear. But what of the men who died in cagier circumstances? We are, of course, talking about those soldiers who were executed for desertion. One such person was William Alexander, who had been a British soldier, before he emigrated to Canada.

19 October 1928 – William Edward Hickman
Nicknamed the ‘Fox’, it was US-born William Edward Hickman’s turn in the noose today in 1928 for a particularly gruesome crime involving a 12-year-old girl. The motive was money and Hickman abducted a girl from school with the express intention of extorting money from her parents by holding them to ransom.

20 October 1865 – Champ Ferguson
OK, so today’s condemned man is controversial. Apparently there are many people out there who still worship Champ Ferguson as a hero. Today people are happy to defend his actions as a guerrilla rebel who targeted many a Yankee soldier or sympathiser during the American Civil War.

21 October 1875 – William Smedley
You don’t want to mess with a man who makes knives for a living, as Elizabeth Firth found out the hard way. She was the common-law wife of one William Smedley, a Sheffield man who made blades to earn an honest crust. But it turned out that there wasn’t much of a crust to be had and his partner was so sick of the hand-to-mouth existence that she kicked him out one night.

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