Jake the SeaSnake

Hanging in the early 18th century

12 posts in this topic

Just wanted to ask if anyone knew any "off" expresions for hanging, I remember finding something that named these but I can't find it anymore, and any reference sights as to methods would be greatly appreciated thanks!

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I'm not sure I understand what you mean by "'off' expressions." Do you mean slang phrases, like "being turned off," "dancing the hempen jig," or "to walk up Ladder Lane and down Hemp Street?"

And then you also want to know about period methods of hanging?

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yes that is exactly what I was asking for

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Daniel DeFoe used the phrase "swing by the string" for hanging; a Newgate girl sang, "If I swing by the string, I shall hear the bell ring, and then there's an end to poor Jenny."

Jonathon Green's Crooked Talk has the phrase, "dance at the sheriff's ball and loll out one's tongue at the company," "dance at Beilby's ball, where the sheriff pays the fiddlers" or "where the sheriff plays the music." One could also "shake" or "shiver one's trotters at Beilby's ball."

The typical 18th century gallows is shown with two posts connected by a single crossbeam. Usually the condemned man or men (often several were hanged at once) would be brought to the gallows in a cart, facing backward. Their hands were tied in front of them so they could pray. A noose was placed over the neck, and then the cart would be pulled away, leaving them to die slowly from strangulation and pressure on the carotid arteries. Family members might pull on the victim's feet to hasten death. The victim's clothes and corpses belonged to the hangman, and the family had to buy the dead man's corpse if they wanted to bury it.

Am 18th century French hanging was more complex. The condemned was carried in a cart to the gallows, with three nooses tied around his neck. Both the hangman and the condemned climbed a ladder, and the hangman tied two of the nooses to the beam. Then the hangman would throw the victim off the ladder with a push of his knee and a pull on the third noose, and would hasten the strangulation by hanging onto the beam with his hands and pushing on the tied hands of the victim with his feet. (Compared to the English executioners, those French guys really earned their pay).

In the 17th century, English hangings tended to be with ladders, with the hangman simply twisting the ladder out from under the victim's feet.

Platforms with trap doors were not common until the 19th century, but there was one in Boston as early as 1694, and seven of Quelch's pirates were hanged on it.

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So by the french method, would French settled islands be accustomed to that practice? (such as possibly reunion, or french Caribbean islands?)

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I agree with Pyrate Captain's comments above. When I was researching my new book on the pirate Edward Low (half of whose crew was captured and executed in 1723), I used a book by Stuart Banner (The Death Penalty: An American History. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2002), which has some good detail about this era. For the Newport execution in July 1723, I concluded that the pirates were placed on a platform of some sort, even though the cart method that Pyrate Captain describes was quite common during this period, because at least one contemporary piece described the pirates as "standing on the stage." Plus, since 26 convicted pirates were hanged that day, it would have been worth the effort to construct a more elaborate structure.

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you have no idea how valuable that info you just gave is to me, but my question above still stands, as he was hung on a French island, (as far as I know) did they use the method of the french executioner hanging the other end? in the case of so many and the stage thing I would think not

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I made a similar post before in the ‘La Buse’ thread, but it suits better in this one. Looking at his trail, it says he was to be hanged "naked in his shirt" with a two pound flaming torch in his hand.

This can be compared to the hanging described in Woodward, where the pirates seemed to be dressed as they liked, and some of them were also considerably drunk. The French appears to be more strict, at least in this case.

Any ideas of the symbolic of the torch? Religious?

From the trial of La Buse (google translated):

“..the Council has condemned and condemns to make amends at the front door of the church of the parish, naked, shirt, neck rope and holding in his hand a flaming torch weighing two pounds; for there, decide and declare in a loud voice, that maliciously and recklessly, he has for several years the pirate craft, which he repents and asks for forgiveness to God, the King and Justice; therefore, will be conducted in the public square to be hanged and strangled until death ensues from a gallows, which for this purpose will be planted instead accustomed, his dead body stay twenty-four hours and then exposed to the sea..”

From Woodward, p302

“Standing atop the rampart, most of the prisoners were cowed, including their ringleader, John Augur, who was dressed in filthy clothes and had neither washed nor shaved. In contrast, twenty-eight-year-old Dennis McCarthy and Thomas Morris, twenty-two, were dressed flamboyantly, with long blue and red ribbons adorning their wrists, necks, knees, and skulls.”

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The "Tyburn Tree" is frequently mentioned as the location for hanging in the London environment. I believe I once heard reference to "Tyburn Fruit" as a descriptor of those who were ready to hang.

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To "dance the devil's tatoo" is one of my favorites.

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In French, it is said "to marry the widow with wooden legs" (marrier la veuve aux jambes de bois) - because the noose is the widow of the last hanged.

I found it in Prospere Merimee's books and in another book about the French Revolution.

Edited by Elena

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Is it okay if I reference The Pub? Of course it is; we are most likely the largest conglomeration of anything pirate, from fantasy to fiction to history... So, from the 'On This Day in History' thread, William Brand posted:

"One day after the trial, December 10 1718, Augur and some others "looked through the hemp window", a pirate's last chance to attract attention and to live on in the memories and tales of the living."

I really like the 'looking through the hemp window' one, as I have definitely not heard it before.

http://pyracy.com/index.php/topic/19255-on-this-day-in-history/page-12

The top post on page 12.

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