1829: Jane Jameson

2 comments March 7th, 2018 Headsman

The newsprint below (with spaces added for readability) comes from the Newcastle Courant of March 14, 1829, but the real interest in this date’s hanging tale lies in Jane Jam(i)eson’s public anatomization after hanging.. Here’s a fascinating story about it by Patrick Low of LastDyingWords.com.

On Saturday last, Jane Jameson, the unfortunate woman who was condemned at the assizes here on the preceding Thursday, for the murder of her mother in the Keelmen‘s Hospital, suffered the sentence of the law. After her condemnation she was frequently visited in her cell by the Rev. Robt. Green, the chaplain of the prison, who prayed with her, and afforded her all the religious consolation in his power.

She seemed most anxious to attend to any thing said to her for her spiritual good, and showed none of the hardihood or indifference which she has been said to have evinced. The impression on the chaplain’s mind was, that she was sincerely penitent for her ill-spent life, and the Vicar, who saw her on Friday, felt the same persuasion.

When exhorted by the Rev. Mr. Green to unburden her mind, to speak the truth freely, and confess the justice of the sentence under which she was about to suffer, as she must shortly appear before the Almighty, she replied, “I might as well say that I had done it as that I had not done it, for I was so drunk that I knew nothing at all about it.” Indeed she seems to have been very sensible of her past misconduct, for she observed, “It was all that cursed drink” that had brought her to her present situation.

In the course of conversation, when the worthy chaplain expressed his hope that she was truly penitent for the many and great sins she had committed, and particularly for the great crime for which she was about to suffer, her answer was, “that she hoped she was, and it was a great crime indeed.” This may be regarded as an indirect confession — she made no other.

She appeared, and said she was, resigned to her death, and the only thing she lamented was, the being hanged like a dog.

At 7 o’clock on Saturday morning, she was visited by the Rev. R. Green, who continued in prayer with her for some time. The sacrament was administered at 8 o’clock, when, besides the Chaplain, there were present the Rev. Mr. Shute, and the Rev. F.A. West, Wesleyan minister.

The period for affording her religious consolation previous to the awful change she was to undergo soon expired, and at a ¼ before nine o’clock she was pinioned: in a few minutes more the cart arrived at the gaol, which was to convey her to the place of execution. Mr. Turner, the turnkey, got into it with her, in order to support her.

About 9 o’clock, the procession moved forward at a very slow pace. The order in which it advanced was as follows: — The Town-Serjeants on horseback, in black, with cocked hats and swords; the Town-Marshal, also on horseback, in his usual official dress; the cart with the prisoner sitting above her coffin, guarded on each side by 8 javelin men, and 10 constables on each side, with their staves; then came a mourning coach containing the Rev. R. Green, Chaplain; Mr. Adamson, Under-Sheriff; Mr. Sopwith, Gaoler; and Mr. Scott, Clerk of St. Andrew’s. The unhappy woman kept her eyes shut all the way, as she had been directed, that her thoughts might not be distracted by the sight of the crowd.

The procession arrived at the gallows, which was erected at the usual place, on a part of the Town-Moor near the Barracks, at a few minutes before 10 o’clock.

The Rev. R. Green, on the reaching [sic] the fatal spot, prayed with her, and a psalm was sung. The worthy chaplain then asked her if she died in charity with all mankind, and she said she did. To his question, whether she had the same faith in Jesus Christ for the salvation of her soul which she had before expressed, she also answered in the affirmative. The rev. gentleman recommended her to continue in prayer till the last moment, which she appeared to do, then shook hands with her, and bidding her farewell, said, “May Almighty God have mercy on your soul.”

She appeared till the last remarkably firm, and when the cap was placed over her face, she got on a stool upon the platform in the cart, and when the cord was adjusted about her neck, she said in a steady tone of voice, “I am ready,” then stooping as if to meet her fate, she was launched into eternity, expiring almost in an instant without a struggle.

After she had hung nearly an hour, the body was taken down, and conveyed to the Surgeon’s Hall for dissection, where lectures have since been given upon it. This unfortunate woman was very ignorant, and her course had been extremely vicious. It was given in evidence on the trial that her mother had charged her with destroying her two illegitimate children; and it is currently reported that in one of her mad drunken fits she had attempted to kill her father.

The crowd that attended to witness the execution was immense. We have heard the number of persons present estimated at 20,000, more than half of whom were women. The dreadful ceremony does not seem to have made on all who witnessed it the impression it should have made, for there were some pockets picked at the time.

On this day..

Entry Filed under: Capital Punishment,Crime,Death Penalty,Execution,History

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1792: William Winter, Elsdon Moor gibbet habitue

Add comment August 10th, 2014 Headsman

Atop a hill called steng Cross at the Northumberland village of Elsdon stands an eerie heirloom of England’s gallows history: Winter’s Gibbet. (Or “Winter’s Stob”, to use the local parlance.)


(cc) image from Flickr user johndal

It was here — within sight of the spot where he had murdered an old shopkeep to plunder her stores — that William Winter was gibbeted in chains following his August 10, 1792 hanging at the Westgate of Newcastle. In this fate, he followed his father and brother, hanged four years prior at Morpeth.

According to William Weaver Tomlinson’s Comprehensive Guide to the County off Northumberland,

In 1791 there lived here an old woman named Margaret Crozier, who kept a small shop for the sale of draper and other goods. Believing her to be rich, one William Winter, a desperate character, but recently returned from transportation, at the instigation, and with the assistance of two female faws [vendors of crockery and tinwork] named Jane and Eleanor Clark, who in their wanderings had experienced the kindness of Margaret Crozier, broke into the lonely Pele on the night of 29th August 1791, and cruelly murdered the poor old woman, loading the ass they had brought with her goods. The day before they had rested and dined in a sheep fold on Whisker-shield Common, which overlooked the Raw, and it was from a description given of them by a shepherd boy, who had seen them and taken particular notice of the number and character of the nails in Winter’s shoes, and also the peculiar gully, or butcher’s knife with which he divided the food that brought them to justice. No news, however, of Jane and Eleanor Clark’s fate.

This last line, however, is mistaken: Jane and Eleanor were hanged with William Winter. Indeed, “such was the uncommmon strength of William Winter, that, after receiving sentence of death, he carried both his female companions, one under each arm, from the bar, and across a wide street to the old Castle; supporting, at the same time, his own heavy chains, as well as the irons affixed to the women.” Afterwards, these lightweights weren’t gibbeted, but given over for dissection.

Winter’s rotting corpse hung for many years on his gallows. After it fell apart, the structure was dismantled — but in 1867 the English naturalist Walter Trevelyan, now landlord of the site, had a replica erected with a wooden mannequin. That figure was in its turn stolen, and over the years only the oft-stolen and -replaced wooden head has remained; even the gallows itself was torn down at least once. But it has weathered the years and borne the dim memory of William Winter down to the present day.


At the base of the Winters Gibbet sits a stone that was once the base of a Saxon cross that gave Steng Cross its name — an old medieval marker on the road from Elsdon to Wallington and Morpeth.

(cc) images above from Flickr users Phil Thirkell (first two) and just1snap (last two)

That legend alluded to by Tomlinson, that the shepherd’s boy was able to identify Winter by the pattern of his hobnails, was later exploited as an exemplar of watchfulness in Lord Baden-Powell‘s seminal Scouting for Boys, the book that launched the scouting movement.

“The following story, which in the main is true, is a sample of a story that should be given by the Instructor illustrating generally the duties of a Boy Scout,” runs the introduction to a three-page exegesis on the “strong, healthy hill-boy” who easily covered several miles after passing Mr. Winter, came upon the scene of the crime, recognized the bootprints, and summoned constables whom he guided back to the escaping murderer.

Thus the boy did every part of the duty of a boy scout without ever having been taught.

He exercised —
Woodcraft
Observation without being noticed
Deduction
Chivalry
Sense of duty
Endurance
Kind-heartedness

That last virtue Baden-Powell attributes by dint off the youth’s being broken-hearted at beholding the gibbet, to realize he had caused the criminal’s death. “You must not mind that,” says a magistrate to the child in a fabricated dialogue. “It was your duty to the King to help the police in getting justice done, and duty must always be carried out regardless of how much it costs you, even if you had to give up your life.”


Illustration from Baden-Powell’s Scouting for Boys.

The historical Robert Hindmarsh sort of did pay that most extreme price for his duty; allegedly he was so terrified of reprisals that it led him to an early grave just a few years later. This circumstance, instructive of the marauding family’s reach and impunity, might be further bolstered by the popular superstition that Elsdon Moor is also haunted: a “Brown Man of the Moors” tale predates this crime, but is also sometimes conflated with the purported apparition of William Winter himself.

On this day..

Entry Filed under: 18th Century,Capital Punishment,Common Criminals,Crime,Death Penalty,England,Execution,Gibbeted,Hanged,History,Murder,Public Executions,Theft

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