The female publicly hanged 1800 - 1868.

Between January 1800 and April 1868 in the British Isles (including Ireland and the Isle of Man), 206 women and girls were taken to places of public execution and there hanged by the neck until they were dead, in accordance with the sentence of the court.
The last woman to be hanged in public was 25 year old Frances Kidder, who was executed in front of Maidstone prison at midday on Thursday, the 2nd of April 1868.  She had murdered Louisa Kidder-Staples, her 11 year old stepdaughter, by drowning her in a ditch.
From the 29th of May 1868, all executions were carried out inside prisons and a further 41 women were hanged in private in the British Isles (including Southern Ireland up to 1925). Twenty three of these hangings were carried out in the 19th century and 18 in the 20th century.  Where names below are in blue please click the hyperlink for a detailed account of this case.

Date

Name

Age

Place of execution

Crime

1800 - 7 hanged

29/01/1800

Mary Connor

 

Cork (Gallows Green)

Murder

17/03/1800

Mary Thorpe

 

York (Knavesmire)

Murder of her bastard child.

12/04/1800

Sarah Bailey

25

York (Knavesmire) (hanged with 2 men)

Forgery

23/04/1800

Sarah Lloyd

19

Bury St Edmunds

Stealing in a dwelling house.

31/07/1800

Ann Mead

16

Hertford

Murder of Charles Proctor

23/08/1800

Elizabeth Johnson

 

York (Knavesmire)

Uttering forgery

18/10/1800

Mary Lloyd

 

Boughton (Cheshire)

Forgery

1801 - 7

01/04/1801

Hannah Palmer

 

Warwick (hanged with her brother John)

Murder of Mrs. Palmer (wife of John)

13/04/1801

Alice Clarke

 

Ruthin

Murder of baby daughter

17/04/1801

Elizabeth Burne

 

Naas (Ireland)

Murder

02/05/1801

Hannah Eastwood

 

Lancaster Castle

Forgery (hanged with 2 men)

23/07/1801

Susanna Mottershall

23

Lincoln Castle

Murder of Samuel Glem

03/08/1801

Ann Baker

 

Rutland
(hanged with 1 man)

Killing and stealing sheep

07/08/1801

Sarah Claridge

 

Warwick

Murder of her son age 4

1802 - 3

16/03/1802

Mary Voce

24

Nottingham

Murder of her baby

12/04/1802

Maria Davis and Charlotte Bobbett

 

Bristol

Murder her son Richard Davis

 

Aiding above murder

1803 - 3

15/04/1803

Mary Lappidge

 

Warwick

Uttering forgery

01/08/1803

Martha Chapple

19

York Castle

Murder of bastard child

11/08/1803

Sarah Jones

27

Shrewsbury

Murder of her female bastard

1804 - 4

08/02/1804

Ann Hurle

22

Newgate

Forgery (hanged with 1 man)

12/03/1804

Elizabeth Caesar (Carter)

 

Winchester
(hanged with 2 men)

Murder of her female bastard

19/03/1804

Elizabeth Laughan (Largham)

 

Chelmsford

Murder of bastard child

05/07/1804

Providence Hansard

24

Newgate

Forgery (hanged with 2 men)

1805 - 6

18/03/1805

Ann Heywood

 

York Castle

Murder of her child

25/03/1805

Elizabeth Barber

53

Maidstone

Murder of John Daly

13/04/1805

Mary Morgan

17

Presteigne

Murder of bastard child

03/05/1805

Ann Davis (Gordon)

 

Horsham Common

Murder of a child

12/08/1805

Betty Hulee (Rogers)

 

Exeter

Murder

13/11/1805

Mary Parnell

23

Newgate

Forgery (hanged with 2 men)

1806 - 2

08/04/1806

Sarah Herring

 

Horsemonger Lane Surrey

High Treason coining
(hanged with 3 men)

19/04/1806

Mary Jackson

 

Lancaster Castle

Stealing in dwelling house

1807 - 3

07/01/1807

Margaret Cunningham

 

Edinburgh

Murder of her husband

23/02/1807

Elizabeth Godfry or Godfrey

34

Newgate
(hanged with 2 men)

Murder of Richard Prince
(A large number of spectators were killed & injured at this execution)

31/07/1807

Martha Aldin

32

Norwich

P/T murder of her husband

1808 - 3

10/02/1808

Barbara Malcolm

 

Edinburgh

Murder - child

28/03/1808

Sarah Pugh

 

Hereford

Murder

09/04/1808

Mary Chandler

19

Lancaster Castle

Stealing in dwelling house

1809 - 3

22/02/1809

Mary Barrington (aka
Margaret Grimes)

31

Newgate
(hanged with 1 man)

Making a false oath to obtain property

20/03/1809

Mary Bateman

41

York Castle

Murder ("The Yorkshire Witch")

18/08/1809

Susan Grant

64

Warwick

High Treason coining

1810 - 6

12/03/1810

Rebecca Blundell

 

Winchester

Murder of her bastard child

24/03/1810

Jane Curran

 

Winchester

Forgery (hanged with 5 men)

07/04/1810

Francis Thompson

 

York Castle

Uttering (hanged with 4 men)

13/06/1810

Melinder Mapson

26

Newgate
(hanged with 1 man)

Robbery in a dwelling house

22/08/1810

Mary Costigan

 

Tipperary

Murder

13/08/1810

Betty Amphlett

21

Gloucester

Murder of her bastard child

1811- 2

12/08/1811

Jane Cox

31

Exeter

Murder of John Tremman (child)

30/03/1811

Eleanor Shiel

 

Tipperary

Child murder

1812 - 3

23/03/1812

Elizabeth Smith

 

Ipswich
(hanged with 2 men)

Murder of her daughter (husband John also hanged for this)

13/06/1812

Hannah Smith

 

Lancaster Castle

Riot (hanged with 3 men)

12/08/1812

Catherine Foster

36

Newgate
(hanged with 1 man)

Making false oath

1813 - 8

29/03/1813

Ann Arnold

 

Ipswich

Murder of her bastard child

02/04/1813

Catherine Donovan

 

Cork
(Gallows Green)

Murder

05/04/1813

Sarah Fletcher

19

Horsemonger Lane

Child murder

23/04/1813

Edith Morrey

35

Chester

Murder of her husband, George
(her co-defendant was hanged on 24/08/1812, but Edith was respited as she was pregnant)

06/08/1813

Azubah Fountain

 

Lincoln Castle

P/T murder of her husband
(hanged with 1 man)

06/09/1813

Elizabeth Osborne

20

Bodmin

Arson

29/12/1813

Christian Sinclair

60

Edinburgh

Murder - child

1814 - 3

28/03/1814

Mary Gibbs

 

Ipswich

Murder of her bastard child
(hanged with 1 man)

20/04/1814

Sarah Owens

 

Ilchester

Stealing in dwelling house
(hanged with 1 man)

01/08/1814

Mary Cook

 

Dorchester

Murder of her bastard child

1815 - 6

28/03/1815

Sarah White

 

Salisbury

Arson (hanged with 1 man)

03/04/1815

Sarah Woodward

25

Ipswich

Murder of her bastard child

19/07/1815

Jane Mulholland

 

Armagh

P/T murder of her husband (hanged with co-defendant Robert Edgar)

25/07/1815

Elizabeth Wollerton or Wollterton

 

Ipswich

Murder of Robert Sparkes (infant)

26/07/1815

Elizabeth Fenning

21

Newgate

Attempted murder
(hanged with 2 men)

04/08/1815

Honora Houraghan

40

Cork (Gallows Green)

P/T murder of her husband

1816 - 3

11/03/1816

Sarah Cook

 

Hertford

Murder of her infant son

07/09/1816

Dinah Riddiford

69

Gloucester

Burglary

16/09/1816

Susanna Holroyd

 

Lancaster Castle

P/T murder of her husband

1817 - 7

24/02/1817

Sarah Perry

33

Newgate

Murder of her child

05/03/1817

Elizabeth Fricker

30

Newgate

Burglary
(hanged with 6 men)

15/03/1817

Elizabeth Whiting

 

Lincoln Castle

Murder of her female infant

21/03/1817

Ann Statham

28

Stafford

Murder of her bastard child

14/04/1817

Ann Hawlin

 

Warwick

Murder of her child
(hanged with 1 man)

26/07/1817

Elizabeth Warriner

 

Lincoln Castle

Murder

17/10/1817

Margaret Crossan

50

Ayr

Arson

1818 - 8

17/02/1818

Mary Ann Jones

20

Newgate

Forgery (hanged with 3 men)

17/02/1818

Charlotte Newman

33

Newgate

Forgery

10/04/1818

Mary Connell

 

Cork (Gallows Green)

Murder

18/04/1818

Margaret Dowd

 

Lancaster Castle

Uttering (hanged with 4 men)

24/04/1818

Harriet Skelton

33

Newgate

Uttering (hanged with 1 man)

24/04/1818

Ann Bamford

 

Warwick

Uttering

04/05/1818

Ann Tye

38

Gloucester

Murder

11/08/1818

Bridget Murray

 

Cavan

P/T murder of her husband

1819 - 6

08/03/1819

Sarah Huntingford

61

Winchester
(Gallows Hill)

P/T murder of her husband

12/03/1819

Sarah Hurst

 

Aylesbury

P/T murder of her husband, William

22/03/1819

Hannah Bocking

16

Derby

Murder of Jane Grant

22/03/1819

Mary Woodman

30

Exeter

P/T murder of her husband

29/03/1819

Mary McGarry

 

Downpatrick

Child murder

23/04/1819

Mary Bissaker

56

Warwick

Coining (High Treason)

1820 - 4

12/04/1820

Ann Heytrey

22

Warwick

Petty treason murder of mistress – Mrs. Dormer

12/08/1820

Sarah Polgreen (or Polgrean)

34

Bodmin

P/T murder of husband, Henry

16/08/1820

Rebecca Worlock

36

Gloucester

P/T murder of her husband

05/12/1820

Sarah Price

43

Newgate

Uttering (hanged with 5 men)

1821 - 9

10/03/1821

Mary Clarke

 

Northampton

P/T murder of her husband
(hanged with male co defendant)

14/03/1821

Margaret Plunkett

29

Trim (Co. Meath)

P/T murder of her husband

14/03/1821

Francis Gilligan

18

Trim (Co. Meath)

Aiding Plunkett above

31/03/1821

Esther Waters

 

Leicester

Murder of Elizabeth Clarke aged 3

04/05/1821

Bridget Butterly
Bridget Ennis

 

Dublin

Murder of Miss Thompson

13/08/1821

Ann Barber

45

York Castle

P/T murder of her husband, James

27/11/1821

Ann Norris

21

Newgate

Robbed brothel (hanged with 2 men)

07/12/1821

Margaret Tindell or Shuttleworth

36

Montrose

P/T murder of her husband

1822 - 2

25/03/1822

Hannah Halley

31

Derby

Murder of her bastard child

16/08/1822

Rachel Edwards

 

Monmouth

P/T murder of her husband

1823 - 3

16/04/1823

Mary McKinnon

 

Edinburgh

Murder

18/04/1823

Catherine Kinrade

19

Castle Rushton
(Isle of Man)

Accessory to murder.
(hanged with male co defendant)

26/07/1823

Grace Griffin

 

Berwick

P/T murder of her husband

1824 - 1 

16/08/24

Ester Loughbridge

 

Carrickfergus

Murder of her sister in law

1825 - 2

11/03/1825

Eleanor Ryan

 

Limerick

Murder of her husband

05/08/1825

Hannah Read

36

Leicester

P/T murder of her husband

1826 - 2

16/01/1826

Mary Cain

44

Newgate

Murder of Maurice Fitzgerald

28/04/1826

Joanna Lovett

30

Tralee

Murder - husband

1827 - 5

02/01/1827

Amelia Roberts

30

Newgate

Stealing in a dwelling house  (hanged with 1 man)

26/03/1827

Rachael Bradley

27

Lancaster Castle

Murder of her infant child

11/04/1827

Sarah Jones

26

Monmouth

Murder of her bastard child

16/06/1827

Margaret Wishart

 

Forfar

Murder of her sister

17/09/1827

Mary Wittenback

40

Newgate

Murder of her husband, Frederick

1828 - 6

17/03/1828

Mary Magrath

60

Dundalk

Murder of Jane Kelly (infant)

22/03/1828

Jane Scott

22

Lancaster Castle

Murder of her parents

14/04/1828

Catherine Welch

24

Newgate

Murder of her unnamed son

08/08/1828

Elizabeth Commins

22

Bodmin

Murder of her male bastard

16/08/1828

Ann Harris

50

Shrewsbury

Accomplice to the murder of James Harrison

22/10/1828

Isabella (Bell) McMenemy

25

Glasgow

Robbery & assault (hanged with co defendant Thomas Connor)

1829 - 5

07/03/1829

Jane Jameson

30

Newcastle

Murder of her mother, Margaret

13/04/1829

Esther Hibner

61

Newgate

Murder - child

22/07/1829

Ann Mary Chapman

28

Newgate

Attempted murder of baby daughter. (hanged with 6 men)

17/08/1829

Kezia Westcombe

32

Exeter

Murder of her husband Samuel (hanged with her lover Richard Quantance, age 35)

19/08/1829

Catherine Wright (Stewart)

28

Edinburgh

Murder (hanged with her husband)

1830 - 7

22/03/1830

Ellen Connell

36

Tralee (Ireland)

Murder of her husband

25/03/1830

Mary Kelly

 

Kilkenny

Murder of her aunt

31/03/1830

Jane Graham

49

Carrickfergus

Murder of John Bell (child)

31/03/1830

Mary Murphy

50

Limerick

Conspiracy to murder

13/08/1830

Bridget Brennan

 

Tralee

Murder of her husband

24/08/1830

Margaret Cleland

22

Downpatrick (Ireland)

Murder of sister in law

08/10/1830

Catherine Davidson (Humphries)

 

Aberdeen

Murder

1831 - 5

18/03/1831

Margaret Mackesay

 

Limerick

Murder

05/08/1831

Agnes Clarke

 

Downpatrick

Murder

06/08/1831

Judith Butler

 

Clonmel (Ireland)

Murder of William Whellan
(hanged with 2 male co-defendants)

11/08/1831

Mary Ann Higgins

19

Coventry

Murder of her uncle

06/10/1831

Mary Steel (Bryce)

 

Glasgow

Murder

1832 - 4

09/01/1832

Elizabeth Ross

38

Newgate

Murder of Caroline Walsh

26/03/1832

Mary Kellaway

27

Exeter

Murder of her bastard child

26/03/1832

Sarah Smith

28

Leicester

Murder of Elizabeth Wood

08/06/1832

Margaret Gunning

 

Clonmel

Murder

1833 - 3

30/03/1833

Mary Hunter

47

York Castle

Arson (hanged with 2 men)

19/08/1833

Elizabeth Heaffy

 

Cork

Murder

31/08/1833

Charlotte Long

33

Gloucester

Arson (last female for arson)
(hanged with 1 man also for arson)

1834 - 3

17/02/1834

Maria Canning

 

Dublin

Murder of husband by poisoning (hanged with male co-defendant, Patrick Martin)

19/03/1834

Mary Holden

29

Lancaster Castle

Murder of her husband

19/03/1834

Mary Smith

24

Stafford

Murder of her bastard child

1835 - 6

30/03/1835

Lucinda Sly

56

Carlow

Murder of her husband, Walter
(hanged with male co-defendant)

06/04/1835

Ursula Lofthouse

26

York Castle

Murder of her husband
(hanged with 2 men)

15/04/1835

Mary Ann Burdock

30

Bristol

Murder of Mrs. Smith

03/08/1835

Elizabeth Banks

54

Edinburgh

Murder of her husband

10/08/1835

Francis Billing & Catherine Frary

46

Norwich Castle

Poisoning murder of Mary Taylor

1836 - 3

09/04/1836

Harriet Tarver

21

Gloucester

Murder of her husband Thomas

09/04/1836

Betty Rowland

46

Liverpool

Murder of her husband

14/04/1836

Sofia Edney

23

Ilchester

Murder of her husband

1837 - 1

07/08/1837

Mary Cooney

 

Limerick

Murder of Anne Anderson

1838 -2

05/05/1838

Ann Wycherly

28

Stafford

Murder of her daughter, Ann

21/05/1838

Elizabeth Jeffrey (Nicholson)

36

Glasgow

Murder of Ann Newall and
Hugh Monro

1839 - 0

1840 - 0

1841 - 1

01/05/1841

Mary Anne McConkey

 

Monaghan

Murder of her husband

1842 - 0

1843 - 2

06/05/1843

Betty Eccles

38

Liverpool

Murder of her stepson, hanged with Wilmot Buckley

05/08/1843

Sarah Dazley

24

Bedford

Murder of her husband

1844 - 5

13/01/1844

Sarah Westwood

42

Stafford

Murder of her husband

02/08/1844

Eliza Joyce

31

Lincoln Castle

Murder of her stepson

07/08/1844

Catherine Bryan &
Bridget Lanigan

 

Roscommon

Murder of her husband Patrick,
(brother in law)

28/12/1844

Mary Gallop

20

Chester

Patricide (murder of her father)

1845 - 2

11/01/1845

Mary Sheming

51

Ipswich

Murder of her son

23/04/1845

Sarah Freeman

28

Taunton

Murder of her brother, Charles

1846 - 1

05/01/1846

Martha Browning

23

Newgate

Murder of Mrs. Mundell

1847 - 2

17/04/1847

Catherine Foster

18

Bury St Edmunds

Murder of her husband, John

30/07/1847

Mary Ann Milner *

27

Lincoln Castle

Murder of her sister in law

1848 - 2

21/02/1848

Harriet Parker

33

Newgate

Murder of her 2 step children

14/08/1848

Mary May

38

Chelmsford

Murder of her half brother

1849 - 7

21/03/1849

Jane Scully

 

Roscommon

Murder of Isabella Brennan (hanged with male co-defendant and 1 other man).

20/04/1849

Sarah Harriet Thomas

17

Bristol

Murder of Miss Jefferies (mistress)

09/08/1849

Mary Ball

31

Coventry

Murder of her husband

11/08/1849

Catherine Dillon

 

Limerick

Murder of her husband Daniel
(hanged with male co-defendant)

21/08/1849

Mary Ann Geering

49

Lewes

Murder of her husband and 2 sons

23/08/1849

Rebecca Smith

44

Devizes

Murder of her infant son

13/11/1849

Maria Manning

28

Horsemonger Lane

Murder of Patrick O'Connor
(hanged with her husband)

1850 - 4

31/01/1850

Margaret Hamilton or Lennox

25

Glasgow

Murder of sister in law, Jean

11/04/1850

Catherine Moore

 

Maryborough (now Portlaoise)

Murder of her husband, Patrick

13/04/1850

Mary Reeder

20

Cambridge

Murder of sister, Susan Lucas (Elias’s wife) (hanged alongside Elias Lucas)

27/07/1850

Bridget Keogh

32

Ennis (Ireland)

Murder of Arthur O'Donnell
(hanged with male co-defendant)

1851 - 3

25/03/1851

Sarah Chesham

42

Chelmsford

Attempted murder of husband (hanged with one man)

10/05/1851

Catherine Connelly

70

Cork

Murder of Mary Morris

19/08/1851

Mary Cage

40

Ipswich

Murder of her husband, James

1852 - 2

16/03/1852

Elizabeth Pinckard

51

Northampton

Murder of her mother in law

10/04/1852

Sarah Ann French

27

Lewes

Murder of her husband, William

1853 - 3

29/04/1853

Bridget Stackpoole

 

Ennis

Murder of her nephew, James (hanged with husband Richard)

29/04/1853

Honora Stackpoole

 

Ennis

As above, hanged an hour later. (Last woman to be publicly hanged in Ireland)

11/08/1853

Helen Blackwood

30

Glasgow

Murder of Alexander Boyd. (hanged with male co-defendant.)

1854 - 1855 - 0

1856 - 1

09/08/1856

Elizabeth Brown

45

Dorchester

Murder of her husband, John

1857 - 1861 - 0

1862 - 2

29/04/1862

Mary Ann Timney (Reid)

27

Dumfries

Murder of her neighbour, Ann Hannah. (Last female public hanging in Scotland)

20/10/1862

Catherine Wilson

40

Newgate

Murder of Mrs. Soames

1863 - 1

28/12/1863

Alice Holt (Hewitt)

27

Chester

Murder of her mother

1864 - 1865 - 0

1866 - 1

28/03/1866

Mary Ann Ashford

45

Exeter

Murder of her husband, William

1867 - 1

10/01/1867

Ann Lawrence

29

Maidstone

Murder of her infant son (hanged with 1 man)

1868 - 1

02/04/1868

Frances Kidder

25

Maidstone

Murder of her step-daughter, Louisa (12)

Note. Newgate was the main place of execution for London and the County of Middlesex up to 1902. Horsemonger Lane jail was the “hanging” prison for the County of Surrey up to 1878.

As you can see from the above, murder was by far the most common crime for which women were hanged in the 19th century, representing some 78.6% of the total number executed. 142 of these women suffered for this crime.  A further 20 were hanged for the murder of their bastard child.  This was sadly quite commonplace where young, usually poor, unmarried girls became pregnant and killed their baby.  It was defined as a separate crime from ordinary murder. Attempted murder was still a capital crime in Britain up to 1861. Three women were executed for this offence, the last being Sarah Chesham in 1851.  Three women were also hanged, one for being an accessory to murder, one for conspiracy to murder and one for aiding and abetting murder.
Women convicted of murdering their husbands (at least 18 cases) and superiors (e.g., their employers) (1 or 2 cases) prior to 1828, were guilty of Petty Treason (denoted by P/T above) and were dragged to the gallows on a sled before being hanged. Martha Aldin was who had murdered her husband received the following sentence that on "Friday next you will be drawn on a hurdle to the place of execution, there to be hanged by the neck till you are dead, and your body afterwards to be dissected." The sentence was carried out in full on Friday, the 31st of July 1807, at 12 noon, before a huge crowd on Castle Hill, Norwich.  Dissection was a mandatory part of the punishment for all female murderers from 1752 to 1834.  In 1828 the crime of Petty Treason was abolished, the offence being reclassified as ordinary murder.

At the beginning of the 19th century the “Bloody Code”, as it was known, was still in force, mandating the death sentence for a large number of property crimes.  Six women were hanged for stealing or robbing in a dwelling house, one for robbing a brothel, three for burglary, one for riot, one for killing sheep. 
Coining was deemed to be high treason and three women were executed for it in the 19th century, the last being Susan Grant in 1809. Coining was the practice of clipping off the edges of gold and silver coins and melting down the clippings either to form ingots or to forge other coins. Coining ceased to be a capital crime in 1832. Forgery (particularly of bank notes and coins) also carried the death penalty and led to seven executions up to 1834. Uttering was the crime of passing forgeries - e.g. forged coins, bank notes or cheques and seven women were to die for this crime.
Charlotte Long became the last woman to be executed for a crime other than murder or attempted murder, when she was hanged with Thomas Gaskins at Gloucester in 1833 for arson, which was considered a very serious crime due to the destruction of property and the risk to life. It still carries the possibility of a "life sentence" today. She was one of five women to suffer for this crime between 1800 and 1833.

It was not until 1861 that the Criminal Law Consolidation Act reduced the number of capital crimes to four: murder, treason (including arson in Royal Naval dockyards), mutiny and piracy. No woman was to hang for any of these crimes other than murder.
Catherine Connelly was the oldest woman hanged, being 70 at the time, the youngest recorded was Hannah Bocking, who was only 16 and one of at least nine teenage girls to be executed during the 19th century. She was hanged for poisoning another girl, Jane Grant, at Wardlow Miers in Derbyshire. The execution of persons under 16 was not formally outlawed until the Children's Act was passed in 1908.

Click here for a graph showing the steady decline in female executions during the 19th century as the number of capital crimes and severity of punishments were reduced.  For whatever reason the proportion of female murders and executions was much higher in the period 1837 to 1865.  Women accounted for 32 out of 318 executions during this period, or just over 10%, the highest ever proportion, despite the fact that a large number were reprieved.  There seemed to be a rash of poisonings by women at this time.

All of these women suffered in public, often before large crowds, hanged using the short drop method which meant that none of them had a pain free death and in many cases, it would be reported that they "died hard," i.e. struggled for some time in agony before unconsciousness supervened. Twenty two year old Ann Hurle's execution in 1804 is described thus in the Newgate Calendar :
"She was brought out of the debtors' door in Newgate at eight o'clock. The mode of execution by the drop having been for the time changed to that of the common gallows, she was put into a cart and drawn to the place of execution, in the widest part of the Old Bailey, where she expiated her offences in penitence and prayer. When the halter was fixed she seemed inclined to speak, but her strength evidently failed, and she was incapable. Her appearance, upon the whole, excited emotions of compassion among the spectators, who at last became so clamorous that the sheriff, in a loud voice, described to them the impropriety of their behaviour, after which they were more silent. The cap was then pulled over the face of the sufferer and the cart drawn away. As it was going she gave a faint scream, and for two or three minutes after she was suspended she appeared to be in great agony, moving her hands up and down frequently". (She was typically only pinioned by a rope around her arms and body at the elbows.)

In accordance with the Murder Act of 1752 murderers had to be hanged within 48 hours of sentence.  In reality this was often extended to 72 hours as it was usual to pass sentences on all prisoners convicted at an individual assize on a Friday.  Sunday was legally a “dies non” and nobody could be executed on that day so the earliest a murderer could be hanged was on the following Monday.  This act was finally repealed in 1834.  After which it was normal for at least two weeks to elapse between sentence and execution and this was later extended to “three clear Sundays”.

After 1834, the bodies of all criminals executed were buried within the precincts of the prison in which they were last confined, in unmarked graves whose locations were recorded.  Prior to 1834 those executed for crimes other than murder could be claimed by relatives and friends for burial in consecrated land.

It was normal for men and women to be sentenced together at the end of a county assize or London Session and those condemned and not reprieved would be hanged together, often on a market day (often a Saturday) in the rural county towns so as to draw the biggest crowd.  In 1817, the famous prison reformer, Elizabeth Fry, recorded one of her visits to Newgate prison where she went to comfort a young woman called Eliza(beth) Fricker, aged about 30.  Eliza had been condemned for burglary. Fry found "also six men waiting to be hanged and seven young children." One of the men was Elizabeth’s co-defendant who had also been sentenced for burglary, two for robbery and three for forgery, all capital felonies. Mrs. Fry protested at the severity of Eliza's sentence and was attacked for being a sentimentalist by the Lord Chancellor, Lord Eldon, who stated that "if hanging was abolished for theft, the property of Englishmen would be left wholly without protection." Eliza was duly hanged outside Newgate on Wednesday, the 5th of March 1817, together with the six men, the children being reprieved.

Back to main contents page Back to 18th & 19th century index page.