If Pa killed Ma, who’d kill Pa? Marwood.

1890 William Marwood Executioner

William Marwood, a Lincolnshire cobbler and devout Wesleyan Methodist, executed 176 people during his career as principal public executioner. And apparently slept like a child.

He is often credited with inventing the ‘long drop’ method of hanging. If the weight of the victim was taken into consideration when calculating the length of the drop, death would be instantaneous. Before Marwood took up his post, hanging carried the possibility of protracted strangulation or even decapitation. In further efforts to ‘improve’ his service, he made sure the ropes and tackle he used were made up to his personal specifications.

Marwood travelled to Ireland disguised as a clergyman to hang the Phoenix Park murderers and during his final illness in 1883 rumours circulated that he had been poisoned by Irish sympathisers as revenge for the executions. His wife Ellen survived him long enough to sell his clothes to Madame Tussaud’s but the rest of his possessions were auctioned off, including his dog Nero.[1]

[1] Bill Greenwell, Lost Lives, www.billgreenwell.com