Elizabeth Taylor – hanged for burglary.
Elizabeth Taylor became only the third woman to be hanged on the New Drop gallows outside Newgate, the other two were Frances Warren and Mary Moody.
Elizabeth and her brother Martin were
convicted of burgling the house and shop of Samuel Hooker at Highgate in
On the night of the 7th Mr. Hooker locked
up as usual before going to bed and was satisfied that everything was
secure. Sometime after
The crime was discovered the following morning when Mr. Hooker came down and was surprised by the amount of light in his kitchen from the sun shining through the hole that had been made. He checked round and went into the shop where he noticed various items missing. In a state of agitation he went next door and fetched his neighbour to look at the situation. He then fetched the local constable, Mr. Thomas Seasons and reported the burglary and the considerable loss of stock to him.
On the 18th of May, Mr. Hooker and Mr.
Seasons went to Martin Taylor’s home and searched it. They discovered a cap which had some lace on
it and a few yards of ribbon which Mr. Hooker was able to identify but none of
the other property. Martin was arrested
at the house. Mr. Hooker and Mr. Seasons
then went to the home of a friend of the
Elizabeth and Martin were committed for trial by the magistrates and appeared at the June Sessions of the Old Bailey which opened on Wednesday the 29th of that month before Mr. Justice Buller. Mr. Silvester led the prosecution and the defence was handled by Mr. Garrow.
Various witnesses were called including Mr.
Hooker, Mr. Seasons, Mrs. Halloway and Mrs. Powell,
each giving their account of the events and being cross examined for the
defence. Mr. Garrow
questioned the constable as to the circumstances in which
Martin Taylor was allowed to make a
personal statement in his defence in which he told the court that he had bought
fourteen yards of the linen for twenty two pence a yard from an acquaintance in
the Borough with the intention of having it made up by Mrs. Halloway
into clothes for his wife and sister.
Both Elizabeth and Martin were convicted
and sent back to Newgate to await sentencing at the end of the Sessions. No less than twenty two men and three women
were condemned to hang on that Friday. However fifteen men and the other two
women were reprieved and had their sentences commuted to transportation.
The execution of the eight remaining prisoners was to take place on the portable “New Drop” gallows outside the Debtor’s Door of Newgate on
At around , the
condemned were led from their cells into the Press Yard where the Under Sheriff
and John Villette, the Ordinary, (Newgate’s chaplain)
met them. Their leg irons were removed by the prison blacksmith and the Yeoman
of the Halter supervised the proceedings as the hangman and his assistant bound their wrists in front of them with cord and also
place a cord round their body and arms at the elbows. White nightcaps
were placed on their heads. The prisoners were now led across the Yard to the
Lodge and then out through the Debtor's Door where they climbed the steps up to
the portable wooden gallows. There were shouts of "hats off" in the
crowd. This was not out of respect for those about to die, but rather because
the people further back demanded those at the front remove their hats so as not
to obscure their view of the execution. Once assembled on the drop, the
hangman, probably Edward Dennis, put the nooses round their necks while they
prayed with the Ordinary.
Although still by no means an instant death at least being hanged outside Newgate and being given some drop was a considerable improvement over executions at Tyburn with the long and uncomfortable ride to the gallows where prisoners died a much slower death as they got virtually no drop.