With all the bloody stains on its flag if UK still propagates of its morally superior civilization, its pathetic. Yet what they have done was gruesome, brutal, cruel to an such an extent even a devil won’t do this.
With special thanks to Michael Stern for his help to complete my research for this article on Britishers and their so called civilized way of living.
Some books convey the impression that large numbers of children were hanged for minor crimes such as theft during the 18th and 19th centuries, but the surviving records, e.g. the Ordinary’s Reports from Newgate, UK, do not support this. However, the laws of the time did not accept the concept that children and teenagers did not know the difference between right and wrong and the age of criminal responsibility was just seven years.
There was also a strong presumption against those who committed murder for gain, murder by poisoning or brutal murders, especially of their children or their superiors.
Mandatory death sentences had to be passed on 7 -13 year olds convicted of felonies but equally routinely commuted. Girls were typically hanged only for the most serious crimes whereas teenage boys were executed for a wide range of felonies. Probably the youngest child executed in England was John Dean who was convicted of arson at the Abingdon Assizes on the 23rd of February 1629. His age is given in “The Annals of Windsor” as between eight and nine years and he had set fire to two houses in Windsor. It would appear that the judge, Mr Whitelock, found evidence of malice, revenge and cunning and therefore did not recommend a reprieve of boy.
Alice Glaston, aged 11, who was one of three prisoners hanged on13 April 1546 is almost certainly the youngest girl to have been executed. Her burial is recorded by Sir Thomes Botelar, a vicar and former Abbot of Much Wenlockin Shropshire. He says she was interred in the Parish Church there, before the door of the Lady’s Chapel. The crimes committed by these three was not specified. It has been suggested that the youngest children ever hanged in Britain were Michael Hamond and his sister, Ann, whose ages were given as 7 and 11 respectively in “The History of Lynn” written by William Richards and published in 1812 (page 888). In other accounts they were referred to as “the boy and the girl” as they were both small.
Research into parish baptism records by Michael Stern reveals that these two were almost certainly 17 and 20 years old respectively which is much more likely, as there are no other recorded instances of small children being executed at this time. They were allegedly hanged outside the South Gate of (Kings) Lynnon Wednesday, the 28th of September 1709 for an unspecified felony.
It was reported that there was violent thunder and lightning after the execution and that their hangman, Anthony Smyth, died within a fortnight of it.
Court records often did not give the age of defendants sentenced to death and in some cases the only guide to their age is how old they told the Ordinary they thought they were. Registration of births was not required prior to 1837. Executions of teenagers were not reported in early newspapers, where they existed, so it is not easy to trace all of the executions of juveniles in the 18th century.
Here are some reliable examples.
√ Eighteenth Century.
On Monday 12th of March 1716 William Jennings (also given as Jenkins and Atkins) was hanged at Tyburn for house breaking. His age was reported as just 12 in a newspaper of the time, but there is no Ordinary’s report to corroborate this.
√ Sixteen year old Thomas Smith was hanged at Tyburn on Wednesday, the 25th of April 1716 together with William King who was 18, also for housebreaking.
√ Edward Elton was hanged there the following year for the same offence. Four teenagers were hanged at Tyburn on Monday, the 20th of May 1717. They were 18 year old Martha Pillah (also Pillow) who had been convicted of stealing in a shop, 17 year old Thomas Price and 18 year old Joseph Cornbach for housebreaking and 17 year old Christopher Ward for burglary.
√ 16 year old James Booty suffered at Tyburn on Monday, the 21st of May 1722 for the rape of a five year old girl.
√ On Saturday 18th March 1738, sixteen year old Mary Grote was tied a hurdle and drawn along in a procession behind a cart containing two men, John Boyd and James Warwick, to Gallows Hill on the outskirts of Winchester in Hampshire.
√ Here she was held until the two men had been hanged before being led to a large wooden stake nearby. She was chained to this and bundles of faggots placed round her. The executioner would have endeavoured to strangle her with a rope noose before igniting the fire and reducing the hopefully unconscious girl to ashes.
Mary had been convicted of the Petty Treason murder, by poisoning, of her mistress, Justine Turner.
√ 16 year old William Duell was hanged, along with four others, at Tyburn on the 24th of November 1740. He had been convicted of raping and murdering Sarah Griffin and was to be anatomised after execution. He was taken to Surgeon’s Hall for this but signs of life were discovered and he was revived and later had his sentence commuted to transportation.
√ Seventeen year old Catharine Connor went to the gallows at Tyburn on Monday the 31st December 1750 for publishing a false, forged and counterfeit Will, purporting to be the Will of Michael Canty, a sailor in the Navy, on October the 29th of that year. She told the court that she could neither read nor write and that the forgery was made by a Mr. Dunn, although she was present at the time. Catherine was one of fifteen prisoners to hang that day.
√ Elizabeth Morton, aged fifteen, was hanged at Gallows Hill, Nottingham on the 8th of April 1763 for the murder of the two year old child of her employer, John Oliver.
√ Susannah Underwood was hanged at Gloucesteron Friday the 19thof April 1776 for setting fire to a barn and a hay stack at Longhopeon 31st January 1776.
√ The Hereford Journal newspaper criticised the bad manners of the 15 year old girl for refusing to shake hands with her master at her execution, but did not criticise the authorities for hanging her.
√ On Saturday the 16th of September 1786, seventeen year old Susannah Minton suffered for arson at Hereford before a large number of onlookers. She had been convicted of “voluntarily and maliciously setting fire to and burning a barn, the property of Paul Gwatkin, in the parish of Kilpeck on the 11th of November 1787.
√ She had been tried at the Lent Assizes but was respited to the Summer Assizes, possibly because she had claimed that she was pregnant.
√ Sarah Shenston, an eighteen year old, was hanged at Moor Heath on the outskirts of Shrewsbury Shropshire on Thursday, the 22nd of March 1792. She suffered for the murder of her illegitimate male child whose throat she had cut immediately after birth, on the 30th of September 1791. At the Dorset Lent Assizes in Dorchesterin March 1794, fifteen year old Elizabeth Marsh was convicted of the murder of her grandfather, John Nevil. In accordance with the provisions of the Murder Act of July 1752 she was required to be hanged two days later, which would have been a Sunday, a day on which executions were not permitted.
As was normal the judge in her case delayed sentencing her to the end of the Assize on thus giving her an extra day of life. Elizabeth would have been kept in chains and only allowed bread and water between sentence and execution. She was hanged on Monday the 17th of March and was the first person to be executed outside the new County Gaolin Dorchester. Her body was afterwards given to local surgeons for dissection.
√ Nineteenth century – public hangings. Children, like adults, continued to be sentenced to death for a very large number of felonies up to 1838 although it was normal for younger children to have their sentences commuted for the less serious crimes as there was increasing public disquiet about hanging children. There is little actual evidence of anyone under 14 years old being hanged in the 19th century, despite what you might read in some books to the contrary.
√ As stated earlier, executions were decreasing rapidly, both for adults and young offenders after 1838, as the number of capital crimes reduced and public attitudes changed.
√ The following are confirmed cases of the execution of young people in the 19th century, but cannot be considered definitive as the ages of prisoners were still not always recorded:
√ Nineteen year old Sarah Lloyd was executed at Bury St. Edmunds on the 23rd of April 1800 for stealing in the dwelling house of her mistress, Sarah Syer, at Hadleighon 3rd October 1799. She and her boyfriend had stolen some jewellery and also started a fire in the house.
√ Mead, aged sixteen was found guilty of the murder of Charles Proctor, aged sixteen months, by feeding him a spoonful of arsenic at Royston in Hertfordshire. She expiated her crime on the “New Drop” gallows outside Hertford prison on Thursday the 31st of July 1800, watched by a large crowd.
√ David Duffield, aged 17, was hanged at the Bowling Green, Haverford west in Pembrokeshire on the 6th of April 1801 for the murder of 11 year old Anne Morgan. Duffield was afterwards hanged in chains at Tavernspite. He was the last juvenile to suffer this fate in the 19th century.
√ Seventeen year old Mary Morgan was hanged at Presteigne in Radnorshire in 1805 for the murder of her illegitimate child. She had become pregnant after being seduced by a member of the local gentry in Presteigne and then abandoned by him.
√ She was found guilty of the killing and sentenced to death on Thursday, the 11th of April, her execution taking place two days later on Saturday the 13th, as was required by law at the time, with her body to be dissected afterwards. There are two memorial stones to her in the churchyard at Presteigne.
√ 04 of May 1806, 15 year old Peter Atkinson suffered at York Castle for cutting and maiming Elizabeth Stockton. Nineteen year old Mary Chandler was hanged at Lancaster Castle on the 9th of April 1808 for stealing in a dwelling house. Sarah Fletcher, aged 19, was hanged on the roof of Horsemonger Lane Gaol in Surrey on the 5th of April 1813 for child murder.
√ On the 22nd of March 1819, 16 year old Hannah Bocking became probably the youngest girl to be executed in the 19th century when she was publicly hanged outside Derby’s Friar Gate Gaol for the murder, by poisoning, of Jane Grant.
√ 15 year old Henry Lovell was hanged at Newgate on the 26th of November of the same year for highway robbery.Three teenage boys were executed together for highway robbery outside Newgate in March 1821, James Reeves who was 17, Joseph Johnson 18 John Davis who was also 18.
√ 17 year old William Thompson was hanged at Newgate for highway robbery on the 25th of September 1821 and 16 year old Benjamin Glover was hanged in Somerset on the 1st of May 1822 for stealing in a dwelling house.16 year old Giles East was executed at Surrey’s Horsemonger Laneprison on the 20th of January 1823 for raping a little girl. Catherine Kinrade, aged 19, was hanged alongside her lover at Castle Rushenon the Isle of Manonthe 18th of April 1823 for the murder of his wife.
√ 15 year old John Smith was hanged at Newgate on the 20th of June 1825 for a house burglary. His partner in crime, William Mills (age 22) was condemned but reprieved.
√ Charleselford, aged 17, suffered together with his 21 year old brother, William, for housebreaking onthe 12th of March 1828at Newgate. Three days later 18 year old Moses Angel was hanged at Fisherton Anger near Salisbury for the murder of Daniel Blake.
√ On the 13th of May 1828, 18 year old Russell Brown was hanged at Newgate for highway robbery. James Cook, aged 16, was hanged at Chelmsford’s Springfield Prison on the 27th of March 1829 for arson, having set fire to the premises of William Green, the farmer for whom he worked as a cow hand.
√ 16 year old William Jennings became the last person to be hanged at Gallows Hill, Appleby in Westmoreland when he was executed on the 23rd of March 1829 for the rape of Agnes Corothwaite.On the 30th of March Martin Slack went to the gallows at Yorkfor the murder of his bastard daughter. A boy of just nine was reputed to have been hanged at Chelmsford for arson on the 5th of August 1831, but it is probable that William Jennings was actually 19.
(Author is an Journalist and Export Entrepreneur)
Credits: Text books from Wales Library, Historian.