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

Bookmark this site
del.icio.us | digg | facebook | reddit | StumbleUpon

Advertisements

30 January 1661 – Oliver Cromwell (posthumously)

Posted in Hanged, drawn & quartered with tags , , , , , on January 30 by Old Sparky

Oliver CromwellIn the ultimate act of vengeance, the dead corpse of Oliver Cromwell was dug up from Westminster Abbey, then hanged, drawn and quartered in 1661.

Cromwell’s body was exhumed so he could be posthumously executed for treason.

OK, so he was dead already, but this was in response for the part he’d played in overthrowing the English Crown, which, in turn, had resulted in the execution of Charles I.

Corpse killer

His decayed remains were strung up in chains a year after the son of the executed monarch was restored to the throne in 1660. Charles II ordered the execution at Tyburn on the anniversary of his father’s death to avenge the Roundhead uprising.

Collector’s item

Cromwell’s skull was then stuck on a spike and exhibited outside Westminster Abbey for the next 24 years. But it didn’t stop there. Cromwell’s head then did the rounds, and, at one point, it was sold to a man in 1814. His head was finally laid to rest in Cambridge as recently as 1960.

Bookmark this site
del.icio.us | digg | facebook | reddit | StumbleUpon

30 January 1606 – Sir Everard Digby, Robert Winter, John Graunt and Thomas Bates

Posted in Death penalty, Hanged, drawn & quartered with tags , , , , , , on January 30 by Old Sparky

Four men were hanged, drawn and quartered for their part in the Gunpowder Plot. This posse of men along with others, including Guy Fawkes, collaborated in a bid to blow up parliament, in the hope of erradicating Protestantism.

Sir Everard Digby, Robert Winter, John Graunt and Thomas Bates were executed at St Paul’s just one day before their colleagues, having been found guilty of treason.

Balls of fire

According to ‘James I, the King’s Book’, they were condemned to ‘be Strangled, being hanged up by the neck between Heaven and Earth, as deemed unworthy of both, or either; as likewise, that the eyes of men may behold, and their hearts contemn him.

‘Then is he to be cut down alive, and to have his Privy parts cut off, and burnt before his face, as being unworthily begotten, and unfit to leave any generation after him. His bowels and inlayed parts taken out and burnt, who inwardly had conceived and harboured in his heart such horrible Treason.

‘After, to have his head cut off, which had imagined the mischief. And lastly, his body to be quartered, and the quarters set up in some high and eminent place, to the view and detestation of men, and to become a prey for the Fouls of the Air.’

Nice!

Bookmark this site
del.icio.us | digg | facebook | reddit | StumbleUpon

29 January 1913 – George Mackay

Posted in Hanged with tags , , , on January 29 by Old Sparky

The 13th year of the 20th century was definitely an unlucky one for George Mackay. He was sent to the gallows on this day for murder.

Mackay was hanged in Lewes prison for killing Arthur Walls. He was 29 when he was executed.

Also on this day

29 January 1913 – Edward Hopwood

Bookmark this site
del.icio.us | digg | facebook | reddit | StumbleUpon

29 January 1913 – Edward Hopwood

Posted in Hanged with tags , , , on January 29 by Old Sparky

Just up the road in London, the same fate was awaiting fellow murderer Edward Hopwood.

The 45-year-old was hanged in Pentonville Prison for killing his girlfriend, Florence Silles.

28 January 1953 – Derek Bentley

Posted in Hanged with tags , , , , , , , on January 28 by Old Sparky

Derek Bentley

Scapegoat Derek Bentley infamously took the flack for a minor’s actions on this day in 1953.

Derek William Bentley was hanged at the age of 19 for a murder committed by a mate. He was in the midst of breaking into a warehouse in Croydon with ringleader 16-year-old Christopher Craig, when the police were called to the scene.

Bentley had already been apprehended when Craig fired the lethal shot that killed PC Sidney Miles. But Craig was just 16, so he couldn’t take the rap for the crime. So the prosecution turned to the only other suspect available.

Let him have it

Despite only having a mental age of 11, Bentley was 19 and legally old enough to be fitted up with the crime. Fellow police officers asserted that he goaded Craig by saying ‘Let him have it’, upon which the prosecution hanged their entire accusation.

However, Bentley’s defence asserted that he was appealing to Craig to let the policeman have his gun and Derek’s sister Iris always maintained he didn’t even say the fateful sentence. But his defence failed to sway the jurors and Bentley was found guilty of murder. He was sentenced to be hanged at Wandsworth Prison.

Not guilty

Bentley was granted a posthumous pardon following a 45-year campaign by his parents – which Iris took on after their deaths – to prove his innocence, in which scientific evidence emerged suggesting that the police had lied under oath. But, of course, that didn’t change the fact that it was too late – Bentley had already paid the ultimate price.

Christopher Eccleston puts in a stellar performance as Bentley in the 1991 film Let Him Have It and this is well worth checking out but you will need to be careful. I bought it in Woolworths for £2.99 and it came as a twin pack with Al’s Lads which, despite having Marc Warren in, is crap.

Also on this day

28 January 1829 – William Burke

Bookmark this site
del.icio.us | digg | facebook | reddit | StumbleUpon

28 January 1829 – William Burke

Posted in Hanged with tags , , , on January 28 by Old Sparky

William Burke

Forget body snatching when you can bump people off and get rich by it thought the infamous Williams Burke and Hare.

Using Burke’s lodging house, the deadly Edinburgh duo along with Burke’s girlfriend Helen McDougal, would target unsuspecting guests, plying them whisky until they literally lost consciousness, before suffocating them.

They then offloaded the pristine corpses on to grateful GPs all in the name of medical research.

But the success of their cunning plan went to their heads and they got sloppy. Instead of siphoning off strangers or faceless vagrants in West Port, they targeted two prostitutes who were well known to the area, along with a street performer who had a distinctive deformed foot. They were eventually shopped by their own tenants, who’d started to get suspicious of the scheming trio.

Scot free…

Of course their true feelings for each other emerged as they began turning on each other. Burke blamed Hare, and Hare blamed Burke and McDougal.

Hare won! He got pardoned for his part in the spree, in return for fitting the other two up with the crime. While McDougal was freed due to insufficient evidence, Burke was not so lucky. He got saddled with the guilt and was hanged.

In a sharp twist of fate, some allege Burke was skinned and his bits were used to bind a small book, which is on show at Edinburgh’s Royal College of Surgeons, while others say he was posthumously dissected…for medical research.

But, in case you were wondering, Hare and McDougal didn’t get off lightly either. McDougal is said to have emigrated to Australia to flee her infamy. But it followed her to the Antipodeas too, where she was hounded until she died in 1868.

Some say Hare was apparently flung into a lime pit and died a blind beggar on the harsh streets of London. Others say he wound up in Carlisle.

Bookmark this site
del.icio.us | digg | facebook | reddit | StumbleUpon