Archive for Drawn & quartered

31 January 1606 – Guy Fawkes

Posted in Death penalty, Hanged, drawn & quartered with tags , , , , , , , on January 31 by Old Sparky

Guy FawkesWhile 5 November may be more memorable where Guy Fawkes is concerned, today’s the day he paid for his crime. Fawkes was hanged for his treasonous attempts to blow up the Houses of Parliament in 1605.

Fawkes was also known as ‘Guido’, or the more mundane John Johnson and was tried at Westminster Hall as a member of a group of militant Roman Catholics. This posse of plotters was accused of trying to kill James I of England and Scotland. The plan was to blow up the Houses of Parliament on 5 November 1605, in an attempt to overthrow Protestant rule. Their explosive idea infamously became known as the Gunpowder Plot.

Job lot

Some of the co-conspirators were executed on the previous day. But it was old Guido’s turn on 31 January. Fawkes and the remaining cohorts were dragged to Old Palace Yard in Westminster, where they were to be hanged, drawn, and quartered, one by one.

First to go was Robert Winter’s younger brother, Thomas, followed by Ambrose Rookewood, then Robert Keyes, who, according to a local paper of the day, jumped off the scaffold. He was drawn, disembowelled and quartered nonethless.

Disembowelling knives and Fawkes

Fawkes was the last to go and was seen as the main perpertrator mainy because he would have been to one to set light to the gunpowder. However he was also the weakest, having been tortured and fallen ill. The executioner had to help him up the scaffold and he allegedly broke his neck when he was hanged, so never lived to witness the rude loss of his nether region, nor his quartering.

The hardcore among you may wish to peruse Derek Acorah’s Quest For Guy Fawkes on DVD, but let’s face it, life is too short.

Of course, if you fancy a slice of weird, Guy does features in the (I can’t make my mind up if it’s good or not) film V for Vendetta and as that has Natalie Portman in it it’s got to be worth a look.

Also on this day

31 January 1945 – Eddie Slovik
31 January 1923 – Eligiusz Niewiadomski

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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.

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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.’


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12 November 1660 – Thomas Harrison

Posted in Death penalty, Hanged, drawn & quartered with tags , , , , on November 12 by Old Sparky

Thomas Harrison

Thomas Harrison

General Thomas Harrison lost his life and a lot more for being a staunch roundhead, during the 17th century Civil War. It was his duties of taking the deposed King Charles I to trial and incriminatingly signing his death warrant that led to Harrison’s execution.

When King Charles’s son Charles II was then put on the throne in 1660, it was on the understanding that all who’d been involved in deposing his father would be exonerated. Well…almost all.

The Declaration of Breda set out the ground rules for Charles II restoration to the throne on the proviso that all would be pardoned ‘ excepting only such persons as shall hereafter be excepted by Parliament…’

Of course Harrison was one such exception, because he was branded a ‘Regicide’ – a member of the group who’d actively killed King Charles I.

For that he was hauled across London from Newgate to Charing Cross where he was to die an agonisingly slow and painful death.

He was strung up by his neck then cut down before he had time to lose consciousness. Still conscious, the lower half of his body was then spliced open and his internal organs out and thrown onto a fire, before they cut off his head and quartered him. His bits were displayed around London.

Apparently he was conscious and aware right up until his head was detached. Samuel Pepys said of the event in his diary: ‘he looking as cheerful as any man could do in that condition. He was presently cut down, and his head and heart shown to the people, at which there was great shouts of joy… Thus it was my chance to see the King beheaded at White Hall, and to see the first blood shed in revenge for the blood of the King at Charing Cross.’

Also on this day

12 November 1914 – Arnold Warren

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8 October 1586 – John Adams

Posted in Death penalty, Hanged, drawn & quartered with tags , , , , on October 8 by Old Sparky

John Adams, a Catholic priest, became a martyr when he was executed in 1586.

He was around 40 years of age when he was hanged, drawn and quartered alongside two fellow priests, John Lowe and Robert Dibdale at Tyburn for their faith.

Keeping the faith

This all took place during the English Reformation and consequently at a time when it was deemed a criminal offence to be a Catholic minister.

But all was not lost. The three men were canonised for sticking with the Catholic faith to the torturous end. John Paul II completed their sainthood on November 22, 1987.

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20 September 1586 – Anthony Babington

Posted in Death penalty, Hanged, drawn & quartered with tags , , , , , , on September 20 by Old Sparky

Anthony Babington

Anthony Babington

It’s about time we had a bit of Elizabethan intrigue to spice up September. Who better to beef things up than Anthony Babington, who brings subterfuge along in spades.

The Derbyshire gent headed up a seditious plot to overthrow the then Queen of England in favour of his Catholic benefactor, Mary Stuart.

We are of course talking about Elizabeth I and her cousin Mary Queen of Scots, of whom the former was wary throughout her ‘glorious’ reign.

But it was not glorious for some – namely the Catholics, who’d be ousted in favour of the newly formed Church of England.

Scary Mary

During the period known as the English Reformation, the Catholics were left out in the cold. Despite a valiant attempt to reinstate the Pope as the head of all things ecclesiastical by Lizzie’s sister, Mary I had singularly failed, earning herself instead the title of Bloody Mary, which served only to heighten people’s distrust of Catholicism.

So the beleaguered Catholics turned to Mary Queen of Scots as their one hope for the Pope’s restitution, headed up by the ever-so ballsy Babington.

The fact that he was seriously loaded helped and the plotters were well connected, in so far as they were even able to entice the French Embassy to become embroiled in the too-ing and fro-ing of correspondence.

But it was this very correspondence that was to wind up being a serious chink in an otherwise iron-clad plan. You see, a bloke got caught and the letters were intercepted.

Double agent

Elizabeth didn’t become a great leader just by sitting idly by and letting them try to do her in. Nope, she surrounded herself with some dead loyal subjects.

Take Walsingham for example – Sir Frank headed up her law-enforcement arm. He was the MI6 of the day and with those kinds of skills, it’s no wonder he was soon on the case as Babington brewed up trouble.

With the letters intercepted, the would-be plotter who’d been caught was persuaded to turn double agent in return for his life.

The snitch’s name was Gilbert Gifford and he was a known insurgent. Well, they got him firmly by the short and very curlies and he wound up feeding the crown juicily damning titbits as the plot unfolded, all in return for his life.


How much of this plot was engineered to dispose of one of Elizabeth’s most serious of challengers to the throne, or merely a well…erm… executed bid to overthrow Elizabeth, is the subject of much conjecture. Whatever the story, Walsingham was not to be messed with.

As soon as they’d amassed enough incriminating evidence against the posse of plotters, Walsingham’s men pounced and trounced any vestige of treasonous activity.

Babington, along with other sympathisers, such as Tichborne and John Ballard were tried by the authorities.

Cashed and burned

No-one fancied their chances much, least of all the men themselves. Of course, that’s where Babington’s stash of cash should have come in handy. Facing a certain death by hanging, drawing and quartering, Babs hoped to see himself right by buying his way to freedom, offering to stump up £1,000 to bail himself out.

Well, that would never do – examples had to made of these desperados and the Tudors were not adverse to a bit of quartering to pacify the punters. So, just two days after they were hauled in under arrest, the unfortunates were dragged from the Tower to their place of execution at St Giles.

The men were then strung up until barely conscious, cut down before being rudely relieved of key nether region equipment, which was then thrust onto a fire and burned before their very eyes.

Innards and dangly bits despatched, the beleaguered men would have possibly still be conscious when their heads were cut off and the remaining corpses quartered.

However, the Queen got wind of the semi-conscious bowel extraction and ordered the remaining conspirators, who were due to be done the following day, to be hanged until dead before the quartering took place.

As for Babs et al, their bits were then carted off round the country to be exhibited as a lesson to all would-be insurgents.

Cuz, I can

You may be wondering what happened to Mary in all this. Well her threat was confirmed, if ever Elizabeth had had any doubts.

The fact that this plot could have so nearly been successful meant Liz had no choice but to have her cousin’s head on the block, so her execution took place at Fotheringhay Castle the following year. If you’re wondering what the deal was there, check out Mary Queen of Scots’ story on 8 February 1587.

Also on this day

20 September 2006 – Clarence Hill
20 September 1586 – Chidiock (Charles) Tichborne

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