MARWOOD, William, letters, autographs, documents, manuscripts



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MARWOOD, William (1820-1883). Public executioner.
Marwood's card, with the stamped inscription on one side (traces of mounting and slight crease), and his signature, 'Wm Marwood / Horncastle' on the other.
Oxford DNB says of Marwood: 'Becoming interested in executions, he suggested that, for reasons of humanity, criminals ought not to be choked to death. By carefully ascertaining a criminal's weight, and by employing a proportionate length of rope, he showed that the descent of the body into the pit beneath the scaffold would instantaneously dislocate the vertebrae, and thus cause immediate death. He became a pupil of the executioner William Calcraft and obtained his first engagement as a hangman at Lincoln in 1871; his 'longdrop' system worked with success on that and many subsequent occasions. The sheriffs of London and Middlesex appointed him to succeed Calcraft (of whom Marwood said 'He hanged them - I executed them') in June 1874, at an annual retainer of £20 and a fee of £10 per execution; as was usual, he was also entitled to the hanging rope and the clothes of his victims. Among the more celebrated criminals whom he put to death were Charles Peace, Percy Lefroy Mapleton, Dr Lamson, Kate Webster, and Henry Wainwright; he also hanged the Phoenix Park murderers in Dublin. Gustave Doré drew Marwood while he was hanging Wainwright on 21 December 1875; it was entitled L'execution à Londres.
G. C. Boase, 'Marwood, William (1820-1883)', rev. J. Gilliland, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004.
[No: 21892]


The image shows both sides of the card.


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