Sunday, 14 June 2009

The Earl Ferrers - A complete digresssion...

By the way, does anyone know for sure whether the Streatham pub is definitely named for Laurence Shirley Ferrers, 4th Earl (1720-1760), "the last nobleman in England to suffer a felon's death"?

Intriguingly, I've been unable to confirm that he was actually hanged with a silken rope, the supposed privilege for members of the House of Lords! There is more evidence that he asked to be beheaded, but the King could not agree to this, as that punishment was reserved only for treason.

Writ of Execution upon a judgment of Murder, before the King in Parliament.

GEORGE the fecond by the grace of God of Great Britain, France, and Ireland, king, defender of the faith, and fo forth; to the fheriffs of London and fheriff of Middlefex, greeting. Whereas Lawrence earl Ferrers, vifcount Tamworth, hath been indicted of felony and murder by him done and committed, which faid indictment hath been certified before us in our prefent parliament; and the faid Lawrence earl Ferrers, vifcount Tamworth, hath been thereupon arraigned, and upon fuch arraignment hath pleaded not guilty; and the faid Lawrence earl Ferrers, vifcount Tamworth, hath before us in our faid parliament been tried, and in due form of law convicted thereof; and whereas judgment hath been given in our faid parliament, that the fair Lawrence earl Ferrers, vifcount Tamworth, fhall be hanged by the neck till he is dead, and that his body be diffected and anatomized, the execution of which judgment yet remaineth to be done: we require, and by thefe prefents ftrictly command you, that upon Monday the fifth day of May inftant between the hours of nine in the morning and one in the afternoon of the fame day, him the faid Lawrence earl Ferrers, vifcount Tamworth, without the gate of our tower of London (to you then and there to be delivered, as by another writ to the lieutenant of our tower of London or to his deputy directed, we have commanded) into your cuftody you then and there receive: and him in your cuftody fo being, you forthwith convey to the accuftomed place of execution at Tyburn: and that you do caufe execution to be done upon the faid Lawrence earl Ferrers, vifcount Tamworth, in your cuftody fo being, in all things according to the faid judgment. And this you are by no means to omit, at your peril. Witnefs ourfelf at Weftminfter the fecond day of May, in the thirty third year of our reign. Yorke and Yorke.
From: Blackstone's Commentaries on the Laws of EnglandBook the Fourth - Appendix

The Earl was sentenced at a time when dissection was reserved only for the most abominable criminals. It was a particular sentence, over and above the normal penalty of hanging.

In April, 1760, Laurence Earl Ferrers was tried before the House of Lords, for the murder of his steward, He was found guilty, and sentenced "to be hanged by the neck till he was dead; after which his body was to be delivered to Surgeons' Hall, to be dissected and anatomised." At the latter part of the sentence, we are told, his lordship cried out, "God forbid!" but, soon recollecting himself, added, "God's will be done!" On Monday, the 5th of May, he was hanged at Tyburn, and the body was conveyed, with some state, in his own landau and six, to the Surgeons' Hall, in the Old Bailey, to undergo the remainder of the sentence.
From: 'The Old Bailey', Old and New London: Volume 2 (1878),

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Don't hold your breath...

It is unlikely that there will be any substantive posts on this blog for a little while yet.