Amazing True Stories of Execution Blunde by Geoffrey Abbott, G. (Geoffrey) Abbott, Jeremy Beadle

By Geoffrey Abbott, G. (Geoffrey) Abbott, Jeremy Beadle

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However, another custom required that the executioner be paid. Balmerino apologised and, giving him three guineas, said, ‘Friend, I never had much money. This is all I have – I wish it were more for your sake. ’ Taking the garments off, he laid them on the coffin and, calling for the yeoman warder who had been his guardian and companion while he had been imprisoned in the Tower, he gave the man his periwig, replacing it with a nightcap of Scotch plaid, then took the axe from Thrift and, after feeling the edge, returned it to the executioner before finally approaching the block.

He looked at Jack Ketch, the executioner so notorious for his savage inaccuracy that his name became synonymous with the very word ‘hangman’. ’ he demanded, and when assured that it was, he prayed, then went over to where the block was positioned with the axe resting against it. Picking it up, he felt the edge of it with his nail, then replaced it and, taking six guineas from his pocket and handing them to Ketch, he said, ‘Pray, do your business well; do not serve me as you did my Lord Russell, for I have heard you struck him three or four times.

He demanded, and when assured that it was, he prayed, then went over to where the block was positioned with the axe resting against it. Picking it up, he felt the edge of it with his nail, then replaced it and, taking six guineas from his pocket and handing them to Ketch, he said, ‘Pray, do your business well; do not serve me as you did my Lord Russell, for I have heard you struck him three or four times. ’ Observers reported that: ‘he then proceeded to make himself ready. He took his coat off and laid it down, but his peruke he merely tossed aside.

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