Executed at Chester, 28th of May, 1809, for Salt-Stealing, after a First Attempt to hang them had failed
IN the county of Cheshire were several salt-works; and these men, it appeared, were connected with a gang of villains, who made a practice of committing depredations on those valuable manufactories, and conveying the salt to Liverpool and Manchester, where they found a ready sale for it.
The works at Odd Rode had been frequently plundered by these men; and when they were detected by an excise officer they fired a pistol at him, in order to facilitate their escape. They, however, missed their aim, were taken, tried, and sentenced to death. They confessed the robbery, but solemnly denied the act of shooting at the exciseman, which they laid to the charge of one Robert Beech, one of the gang not then apprehended.
On the morning of their execution they received the Sacrament with much apparent devotion, in which they were joined by the wife of Proudlove, the mother of Glover, and four more convicts under sentence of death. They were then consigned to the custody of the sheriff, and walked with firm steps to the cart in waiting to receive them. After they had passed through the principal streets of the city of Chester they were carried to the place of execution, which was covered with black cloth.
We wish we could here end our painful report of the sad scene which followed the dropping of the platform; but alas, horrid to relate, both ropes snapped a few inches from their necks, and the poor sufferers fell upon the terrace.
The impression and shock upon the feelings of a multitude of spectators at this moment cannot be described. Human sensibility was harrowed to the very soul; and the moans, cries and tears of the people loudly spoke the poignancy of their hearts. Stranger yet to tell, the miserable men appeared to feel little either in body or mind from the shock they had received: they lamented it had happened, and spoke of it as a disappointment in going instantly to heaven.
They were conducted back to the jail, to which they walked with equal coolness, and only requested that the chaplain might again come to them. This was complied with -- and, stronger ropes being procured, about three o'clock in the afternoon, having passed the intermediate time in prayer, they were reconducted to the fatal drop and, perfectly resigned to their fate, were launched into eternity.
[Note: A circumstance of this affecting nature happened some years ago, on the execution of William Snow alias Skitch, for burglary, and James Wayborn, for a highway robbery at Exeter. These wretched men had been turned off a few seconds, when the rope whereby Skitch was suspended slipped from the gallows and he fell to the ground. He soon rose and heard the sorrowful exclamations of the spectators, to whom he calmly addressed these words: 'Good people, do not be hurried; I am not hurried: I can wait a little.' The executioner wishing to lengthen the rope, Skitch calmly waited until his companion was dead, when the rope was taken from the dead man's arms, in order to complete the execution of Skitch, who was a second time launched from the scaffold, amidst the tears of thousands."
-- Historical Magazine, 1789.
From the same authority we also find that, on the execution of W. Combes, W. Harvey and T. Hunt, owing to the carelessness or ignorance of the hangman, two of the unhappy sufferers fell to the ground after being tied up; and, to augment their horrors, witnessed the last agonies of their unfortunate companion. ]