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Image: Bloody Babs Says Goodbye to Tommy April 21, 2014

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
Image: Bloody Babs Says Goodbye to Tommy

Barbara Graham was executed by the State of California, June 3 1955, in the gas chamber at St Quentin: she had been found guilty of the murder of one Mabel Monahan, an elderly lady. There are some questions about her guilt. Perhaps we can lay this to rest, immediately, by noting that whether BG actually […]

The Last Stoning in Ireland November 13, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
The Last Stoning in Ireland

Ok this title is a provocation. Saying the last stoning in Ireland is a bit like saying the last blizzard in Saudia Arabia or the last vegetarian meal in France. The early Irish left behind detailed law codes and there is no record of anyone being stoned at any time. Their medieval heirs had many […]

Death’s Fluttering Wings: Photos November 9, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary
Death's Fluttering Wings: Photos

A bit of a melancholy day and so Strange History offers a post on death: a series of pictures of people about to die. The only condition is that the photographs must not be excessively upsetting or morbid. This means that most of the people here, in fact, do not know that they are about […]

Execution Substitution: Has It Ever Happened? September 27, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
 Execution Substitution: Has It Ever Happened?

A weird little episode that Beach can’t get out of his head. 20 January 1793 the news has come that Louis XVI will be executed/murdered/killed the next day. It is difficult for us to understand the frantic actions undertaken by monarchists in Paris in their do or die efforts to save ‘the anointed of God’. […]

Botched Beheadings April 29, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
Botched Beheadings

The guillotine was originally invented as an act of humanitarianism to liberate criminal kind from the axe. It made sense, after all, to remove a criminal’s head from his or from her shoulders if that criminal had to be killed. But the procedure was messy. Two important things could go wrong while removing said head […]

Death As A Basketball April 14, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
Death As A Basketball

Death by basketball… We examined this quaint pre-Columbian custom just last week. But what about the strangest death of them all death AS a basketball? drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT com The place is Central America and we are in pre-Columbian times again. This is the epoch of the great ball games of the Maya and […]

Death By Basketball April 6, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
Death By Basketball

Humanity is extraordinarily ingenious in terms of the different ways it has found to execute people. We’ve reviewed on this blog before elephant executions; Mike Dash has recently given space to the Viking’s blood eagle; there is necklacing in Sub-Saharan Africa (a lynching rather than judicial capital punishment); the brazen bull in ancient Greece (another […]

Fairy Witches 2#: Bessie Dunlop March 24, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Fairy Witches 2#: Bessie Dunlop

Here are some extracts from the trial of one of the most interesting fairy witches of them all: Bessie Dunlop who was brought before the Edinburgh Assizes in 1576. This rendering of the trial (into English rather than Scots English) comes from Emma Wilby’s worthwhile: Cunning Folk and Familiar Spirits. Bessie’s first confession includes the […]

Death of the Doctor December 31, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Death of the Doctor

Poor old reverend William Dodd! Hanged in 1777 at Tyburn he was the last Englishman to be sentence to death for forgery. His trip to the gallows was greased by money. He was never able to make enough and yet he was always able to spend too much. In February 1777 he forged a bond […]

Good Executions? December 10, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
Good Executions?

Is there such a thing as a ‘good execution’: after all the extinction of human life should never or almost never be a cause for celebration? Well, historians have used the phrase, in the past generation – though it has older antecedents – to refer to the extent to which the criminal cooperates with his […]

Modesty and Killing November 27, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
Modesty and Killing

When Benito Mussolini was ‘executed’ (jolted out of a car by some communist partisans and shot in the chest in a ditch) he did not die alone. By his side was his lover and perhaps the most significant woman in his life, Clara Petacci. CP was gunned down a moment before Mussolini himself. The corpses […]

Madame Tussaud Meets the Guillotine November 6, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Madame Tussaud Meets the Guillotine

***Dedicated to Laura: for an excellent background to Madame Tussaud follow this link (and look out particularly for Brad Pitt’s knickers)*** Anna Maria Tussaud (obit 1850) came to Britain in 1802 to show her famous wax impressions as an entrepreneur, but she remained in the country as an exile once the Napoleonic Wars had begun. […]

Lord Ferrers and the Silk Rope September 28, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Lord Ferrers and the Silk Rope

Beach read the following description of an execution this summer and it has remained in his mind so vividly that he thought that he would share it here. Lord Ferrers (obit deservedly 1760) was a bad lot who used to put fireworks in his wife’s bed (he loathed her) and eventually shot a steward who […]

Capital Punishment Cobblers August 19, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Capital Punishment Cobblers

A cute little story from France a country which seems to attract a lot of urban myths around judicial execution: the majesty of the guillotine? Many years ago, a celebrated French physician, author of an excellent work on the effects of Imagination, wished to combine theory with practice, in order to confirm the truth of […]

Decapitation Gone Wrong in China, c. 1900 June 15, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
Decapitation Gone Wrong in China, c. 1900

***Gruesome post warning*** Bad day? Children sick? Feel a bit depressed? Dog ate your laptop? Then do yourself a favour and move on. The following includes some very unpleasant details from a Chinese execution c. 1900, when medieval lingchi (death by cutting) was still in operation. The following execution was not planned as lingchi but […]

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