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Execution — when, very soon after he was turned-off, a Reprieve arrived; insomuch that, had he stopped, as was usual, at the Gallows House, the time consumed there would have heen the means of saving his life; so that he was hanged, as truly as unhappily, for leaving his liquor.
The same compliment was anciently paid to Convicts, on their passage to Tyburne, at St. Giles's Hospital; for we are told by Stowe *, that they were there presented with a Bowl of Ale, called " St. Giles's Howl;" "thereof to drink at their pleasure, as their last refreshing in this life." This place (Tyburne) was the established scene of Executions in common cases so long ago as the first year of King Henry IV; Smithfield and St. Giles's Field being reserved for persons of higher rank, and for crimes of uncommon magnitude; such as treason and heresy: in the last of these, Sir John Oldcastle, Lord Cobham, was burnt, or rather roasted, alive; having been hanged
* History of London, vol. II. p. 74.
up over the fire by a chain which went round his waist *.
The Execution of the Duke of Monmouth (in July 1685) was peculiarly unsuccessful in the operation.
The Duke said to the Executioner, " Here are Six Guineas for you: pray do your business well; do not serve me as you did my Lord Russell: I have heard you struck him three or four times. Here" (to his Servant); "take these remaining Guineas, and give them to him if he does his work well."
Executioner.—" I hope I shall."
Monmouth.—" If you strike me twice, I caunot promise you not to stir. Pr'ythee let me feel the Axe." He felt the edge, and said, "I fear it is not sharp enough."
Executioner.—" It is sharp enough, and heavy enough."
The Executioner proceeded to do his office; but the Note says, "it was under such distraction of mind, that he fell into the very error which the Duke had so earnestly cautioned him to avoid; wounding him so slightly, that he lifted up his head, and looked him in the face, as if to upbraid him for making his death painful; but said nothing. He then prostrated himself again, and received two other ineffectual blows; upon which the Executioner threw down his Axe in a fit of horror; crying out, " he could not finish his work." but, on being brought to himself by the threats of the Sheriff's, took up the fatal weapon again, and at two other strokes made a shift to separate the Head from the Body." [LordSomers's Tracts, vol. I. pp. 219, 220; the Note taken from the Review of the Reigns of Charles and James, p. 885.]
* Rapin. See also Bale's Life and Trial of Sir John Oldcastle. St. Giles's was then an independent Village, and is stiil called St. Giles's in the Fields, to distinguish it from St. Giles's, Cripplegate; being both in the same Diocese.
As to the Fee itself, which has occasioned me to give you so much trouble, I incline to think this seeming singular sum must have been of Scottish extraction, though not used for the like purpose; for, I presume, from the value of money there, a man might formerly be hanged at a much cheaper rate, and that we have it by transplantation. The Scottish Mark (not ideal or nominal money, like our Mark) was a Silver Coin, in value Thirteen Pence Halfpenny and Two Placks, or Two-Thirds of a Penny; which Plack is likewise a Coin. This, their Mark, bears the same proportion to their Pound, which is Twenty Pence, as our Mark does to our Pound, or Twenty Shillings; being Two-; Thirds of it. By these divisions and subT divisions of their Penny (for they have a still smaller piece, called a Bodel or Half a Plack) they can reckon with the greatest minuteness, and buy much less quantities of any article than we can *. This Scottish Mark was, upon the Union of the two Crowns in the person of King James I. made current in England at the value of Thirteen Pence Halfpenny (without regarding the fraction), by Proclamation, in the first year of that King; where it is said, that " the Coin of Silver, called the Mark Piece, shall be from henceforth currant within the said Kingdom of England, at the value of Thirteen Pence Halfpeny *." This, probably, was a revolution in the current money in favour of the Officer of whom we have been speaking, whose Fee before was perhaps no more than a Shilling. There is, however, very good reason to conclude, from the singularity of the sum, that the odious title of Hangman's Wages became at this time, or soon after, applicable to the sum of Thirteen Pence Halfpenny. Though it was contingent, yet at that time it was very considerable pay; when one Shilling per diem was a standing annual stipend to many respectable Officers of various kinds.
After having discovered the pay of an Office, one naturally inquires for Perquisites and other Emoluments; for all posts, from the High Chancellor to the Hangman, carry some; and which, in many cases, as well as this, often exceed the established pay itself. Nothing can well vary more than the Perquisites of this Office; for it is well known
* The Proclamation may be seen in Strype's Annals, vol. IV. p. 384; where the Mark-Piece is valued exactly at Thirteen Pence-Halfpenny,