Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Executed At Gloucester Prison

Gloucester Prison was one of seven jails earmarked for closure by Justice Secretary Chris Grayling, which saw the final closure on 31st March 2013, after it was first opened in 1792.  The jail was a Category B prison which did hold some infamous names, such as Fred West on remand, and the Solicitor Herbert Armstrong, hanged for murdering his wife, and the wrongly convicted Stefan Kisko, infamously fitted up by the Police for child murder.  But 104 men and women were executed there between 1800 and 1939.  There were in total, seven women hanged; Elizabeth Amplett hanged for murder on August 13th 1810.  Dinah Riddiford was next on September 7th 1816 for burglary.  Third to go was Ann Tye on 4th May 1818 for murder.  Next came Rebecca Worlock on 16th August 1820 for murder.  Then on 31st August 1833, the recipient was Charlotte Long, convicted of Arson and dispatched by Tom Taylor.  Harriet Tarver was next on April 9th 1836 for murder, with all subsequent prisoners hanged for murder, she was hanged by William Calcraft.  The final woman to hang was Ann Berry on January 12th 1874, along with Charlie Butt and Edwin Bailey.  The executioner was Robert Armstrong.

    Way back in the "good ole days" there were many multiple hangings. Twos & threes were commonplace.  Some prisons could conduct mass hangings in one go.  Lancaster Prison once hanged all the members of one family, between nine & eleven, including all the children, with all standing on a lengthy platform.  Reportedly they were all singing until the board was tripped.  But April 18th seemed to be an excellent for hanging.  On that day in 1801, five men were dealt with, then on the same day 1818, six men went.  The last multiple was that of Butt, Bailey & Berry.  Capital crimes included theft of; cloth, sheep, horse, cow, along with forgery, arson, robbery, rape, burglary, attempted murder & finally, murder.  Hangmen that "worked" at Gloucester were Tom Taylor, Sam Burrows,Sam Haywood, William Calcraft, Robert Armstrong, William Marwood, James Berry, James Billington, William Billington, John Ellis & Tom Pierrepoint.  The last execution was that of Ralph Smith, on June 7th 1939, carried out by Tom Pierrepoint. Herbert Armstrong was executed on May 31st 1922 by John Ellis.  This was made into a TV dramatisation entitled "Dandelion Dead" with Michael Kitchen as Armstrong.  Solicitor Martin Beales, who lived in the Armstrong house, many decades later, is convinced that Armstrong was innocent and wrote a book entitled "The Hay Poisoner" supporting his claim, and that the dramatisation was very inaccurate in it`s portrayal of the facts. Read it and judge for yourselves.