Archive for the Beheaded Category

30 January 1649 – Charles I

Posted in Beheaded with tags , , , , on January 30 by Old Sparky

Charles I

Charles I of England Scotland and Ireland lost his head on this day in 1649. He was condemned to death for being ‘a tyrant, traitor, murderer and public enemy to the good of this nation’.

Following a battle between Charles I’s supporters – the Cavaliers – and Parliament’s supporters the Roundheads, led by Oliver Cromwell, the king was captured and sent to trial accused of treason for exercising his royal right to rule without the aid of Parliament. Up to that point he had refused to be beholden to his government when he needed money so he’d just got on with it for 11 years.

Tyrannical Rex

But his rule was seen as tyranny. Charles showed a knack for angering entire sections of society. Without a parliament he needed money, so he fined the aristocracy for failing to come to his coronation. He then ressurrected archaic taxes such as ship money, while angering the Scots with his moves to impose the Book of Common Prayer in church.

War looms

Naturally the government didn’t sit back and let him get on with it. They passed laws and, having failed to resist his actions, they formed a New Model Army of Parliamentarians under the leadership of Oliver Cromwell. The two factions went head to head. Following a series of civil wars, Charles’s army was defeated and he was captured and imprisoned.

Trial and retribution

Following his trial Charles was found guilty of high treason and sentneced to be executed. But long line of executioners refused to behead their monarch. Finally two people agreed on the proviso that they wore masks to conceal their identities. They were paid the kingly sum of £100 for their efforts.

Proud to the last, Charles was said to have worn a thick cotton shirt – it was January so he wouldn’t be seen to be shivering as he didn’t want the crowd to mistake him as being frightened or weak. It took just one slice of the blade to decapitate the deposed monarch.

Apparently there was a groan as the execution took place. And following his execution, some say the paying public were then permitted to dip their hankies in Charles’s blood as it was believed to be a cure-all for illnesses or wounds.

Alec Guiness donned the dodgy wig to play Charles as he squares up to Richard Harris’ Cromwell in Ken Hughes’ 1970 film “Cromwell” and although its pretty good I don’t like the look on Harris’ face after the execution scene.  I can’t work out if he’s pleased or a little but gutted…but maybe that’s the point.

Also on this day

30 January 1661 – Oliver Cromwell (posthumously)
30 January 1606 – Sir Everard Digby, Robert Winter, John Graunt and Thomas Bates

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22 January 1552 – Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset

Posted in Beheaded with tags , , , on January 22 by Old Sparky

Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset

Jealous adversaries deposed the Duke of Somerset on this day in 1552.

Despite being popular for a time in the eyes of the public, Edward, Duke of Somerset was beheaded in London for supposed treason.

A family affair

He was the brother of Jane Seymour, who died giving her husband Henry VIII his only son and heir to the English throne – Edward VI.

In fact, as his uncle, the duke took it upon himself to help his young nephew to rule the country following the death of Henry VIII. And, in doing so, he became Lord Protector.

But his meteoric ascendency to power came with a catch, natch. He amassed the prerequesite jealous adversaries along the way, who were only too happy to plot against him, as was the order of the day.

His protestant reforms narked the Catholics, while his land laws aggrieved the land owners and the Duke of Northumberland. Even his own brother hatched a plot to depose him and failed, leaving Somerset with no choice but to execute him.

Jealous rivals

But it was the Earl of Warwick who successfully overthrew Somerset in 1549, following a peasant uprising. Somerset was jailed leaving Warwick free to take up the mantle.

They eventually had Somerset up on some flimsy charge of treason in 1551. Though the case could not be proven, Somerset was still found guilty of some lesser charge and unceremoniously stripped of his peerage. And despite the tenuous nature of his offence, the penalty was still death.

Somerset was executed at Tower Hill just after 8am. According to an account written by Henry Machyn, a London undertaker, just before Somerset lost his head ‘there was a sudden rumbling a little before he died, as if it had been guns shooting and great horses coming, so that a thousand fell to the ground for fear, for they who were at one side thought no other but that one was killing another, so that they fell down to the ground, one upon another with their halberds, some fell into the ditch of the Tower and other places, and a hundred into the Tower ditch, and some ran away for fear.’

Despite all that, Somerset’s head was cut off, and he was buried in the Tower’s Chapel Royal of St. Peter.

Also on this day

22 January 1992 – Mark Hopkinson
22 January 1992 – Joe Angel Cordova

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10 January 1645 – William Laud

Posted in Beheaded with tags , , , on January 10 by Last Writes

William LaudFormer Archbishop of Canterbury, William Laud lost his head today in 1645 for passionately spreading the Lord’s word.

He was beheaded for treason for his unflinchingly single-minded work in trying to achieve church unity. But it appears he was truly misunderstood and a bit precious by all accounts. Laud had a dream – of uniting the church under one denomination: Anglicanism. But he didn’t take kindly to opposition. His methods provoked Puritans into thinking he was pro-Catholic. He also managed to incense the Scottish who tended to be more Presbyterian. And the Catholics? Well they didn’t even get a look in by the sounds of things. But all viewed his activity as sinister purely because he was overzealous in his defence of the church.

Laud alive

He bagged quite a few enemies along the way too. Laud had a renowned doctor of divinity’s ears lopped off after they’d branded him and whipped him. Why? Because he’d called bishops ‘tools of the Antichrist’. Laud also tried to standardise public worship, for example wearing of the surplice, which harked back to the days of Catholicism. And in doing so, he only succeeded in making people really wary that this was some Popish plot, when really all he wanted was to inject some kind of formality in to proceedings. Laud also wanted the Church to get back some of its land, which of course threatened the new landowners.

But the last straw came in 1637 when he tried to impose the ‘Book of Common Prayer’ on Scotland. Bad move. They wouldn’t even entertain the thought of it and they let him know in no uncertain Scottish terms. Riots, pledges to uphold Protestantism, you name it, they did it to try to maintain their stance on religion. They even went as far as to vote off every bishop in Scotland.

Dead loss

Of course, England didn’t just sit back and ignore their friends over the border. The unrest spread over the next three years until Laud was slung in jail for treason in 1640. They tried him and failed to reach a verdict so Parliament stepped in and sentenced him to death. He was held at the Tower of London until 1645, when he was beheaded at the age of 71.

Also on this day

Yemelyan Ivanovich Pugachov
James Terry Roach

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7 January 1400 – Thomas Holland

Posted in Beheaded with tags , , , on January 7 by Last Writes

An earl lost his head on this day at the turn of the 15th century. And his uncle followed a week later.

The 1st Earl of Surrey Thomas Holland were executed for treason after he tried to overthrow the king in 1399.

Reason is treason

He’d teamed up with a host of other nobles including his uncle John to overthrown Henry IV and reinstate the imprisoned Richard II. Known as the Epiphany Rising, the plot failed because one of the team betrayed his so-called mates.

The grassed up earls fled to the West Country while Henry rallied his troops in London. But he needn’t have bothered as the traitors failed to drum up much support by way of an army. Thomas was soon caught at Cirencester and John at Pleshley.

Retribution was fast and fatal. Thomas was beheaded without even having a trial, aged roughly 26. And his uncle Earl of Huntingdon, John Holland followed just over a week later on 16 January 1400.

Also on this day

2003 – Congalese death row inmates
1913 – Albert Rumens

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Execution of the Day – 2009 (part 20)

Posted in Beheaded, Breaking wheel, Death penalty, Electric chair, Gibbet, Hanged, Lethal injection with tags , , , , on May 14 by Old Sparky

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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30 December 1460 – Edmund, Earl of Rutland

Posted in Beheaded, Death penalty with tags , , , on December 30 by Old Sparky

Some say Edmund, Earl of Rutland, was executed by his father’s bitter Lancastrian rival Lord Clifford at Wakefield Bridge during the War of the Roses.

He was beheaded, and as a final humiliation the Lancastrians made sure his Yorkist head, along with his father, Richard Duke of York’s and ally Earl of Salisbury’s, were skewered on spikes above Micklegate Bar in York for all their former subjects to see in 1460.

Little did they know that the Yorkists followed by the House of Tudor would have the last laugh as they beat the Lancastrians to a pulp just less than 30 years later.

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10 December 1900 – John Filip Nordlund

Posted in Beheaded, Death penalty with tags , , , on December 10 by Old Sparky
John Filip Nordlund

John Filip Nordlund

John Filip Nordlund was the penultimate person to be executed in Sweden.

He was sentenced to death for mass murder after boarding a ferry bound for Stockholm with the sole intention of stealing money from the passengers, killing them and stealing the ships register.

To give Nordlund a head start, he planned to set fire to the ship.

His plan failed, but not before killing four people and wounding a further eight. He was beheaded aged just 25.

Also on this day

10 December 1928 – Trevor Edwards

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