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London’s Hangman

After the execution of the Rotherham murderer recently, a reporter of the Sheffield Daily Telegraph interviewed Marwood, the executioner. The report states:—

“It was a grand execution. Wood never moved even a finger,” were the first words uttered when he entered the room, where a number of persons were assembled. “ I gave him the long drop, nine feet four inches, and he died as peacefully as a lamb.”

“ What is your reason for having such a long drop I” someone asked. Lifting up his hands and raising his eyes, he exclaimed in dramatic tones; “It is humane, and saves suffering; the man dies instantly.”

Ho had not seen Wood before he met him in the cell a few minutes before the execution, but when he did sec him he was very unfavorably impressed with his face. He thought him a cold-hearted, callous man, and was confident of his guilt. In reply to a question respecting the rope, he called for his bag. His visitors held their breath while he slowly unfastened the leathern straps which were around it, applied the key to the lock, opened the bag, and brought out its contents, which proved to be two ropes and a few pinioning straps. One rope, a thick one, measuring about three inches in circumference, was the rope which he had used round the neck, the preceding morning ,of the Aylesbury murderer, and with which he had also executed Wood. The other was a smaller rope, perhaps an inch in circumference. It was a curious sight to behold Marwood contemplating the ropes. He gazed upon them smilingly, fondly handling them as tenderly as a mother would handle a baby, a conoisseui a piece of rare china, a young lady a bonnet of the latest fashion.

“ This rope,” said he, holding up the thickest, “is the rope; it is made of the finest Italian hemp; it is the rope of the good old times.” Here he grew rather eloquent and earnest, and with emphasis added, “ This rope is made especially for me, and is supplied by the Government. Feel it; it is a real beauty.” The visitors felt it, but failed to see much beauty. “Don’t be frightened at it; there are no blood-stains on it ” He said this because it was being very closely and critically examined. “ I never shed blood, and never yet broke the skin of my patients.’” Speaking of his predecessors in the execution line, he said their great fault was that they did not study their profession scientifically. When he became the public executioner hanging was nothing but a theory, little understood; and he proceeded to explain the art of successful and “ pleasant” hanging. In the old days of a short drop a man suffered greatly, but since he inaugurated the long drop death is instantaneous and “ pleasant.” He has abolished vulgar suffocation and strangulation. He now dislocates the neck, severs the spinal cord, and creates no pain. Death is like a flash of lightning. “ I like the reporters,” he subsequently remarked, “ and think the press ought always to bo admitted to executions. I am kept busy. I hang from twenty to thirty every year. lam not paid by salary nor by the Government. The sheriff pays me, and I am paid very well.”

He was asked what he did in his leisure hours. “ Well, I have a nice garden at Horncastle, to which I pay some attention. When I have business London way Igo to church. Spurgeon is my favorite preacher. I always go to hear him—he is a grand man. Sometimes Igo to hear Dr. Parker at the City Temple, and at other times I go and hear Dean Stanley. I am not a Wesleyan—l once was. I belong to the whole Church, not to any sect.”

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Bibliographic details

London’s Hangman, Ashburton Guardian, Volume 2, Issue 253, 27 January 1881

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London’s Hangman Ashburton Guardian, Volume 2, Issue 253, 27 January 1881

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