October 26, 2008
Entrance to HM Prison Manchester (Strangeways) where, in a special execution room, Albert Pierrepoint carried out the famous "quickest hanging" in 7 seconds. (photo credit: Stemonitis)
Throughout the first half of the 20th century, the Pierrepoints, first Henry, then Thomas and finally Albert, were chief executioners for Great Britain, responsible for hanging hundreds of British citizens. After World War II, Albert would hang some 200 Nazis on orders of Field Marshall Montgomery.
by Robert Walsh
"Prisoner at the Bar, you have been found guilty of murder and it is now my duty to pass sentence. It is the sentence of this Court that you are to be taken from this place to a lawful prison and thence to a place of execution, where you shall be hanged by the neck until you are dead, and that your body be afterwards cut down and buried within the precincts of the prison in which you were last confined before execution. And may the Lord have mercy upon your soul. Remove the prisoner."
To many British people over a certain age, the name Pierrepoint is an unusual one. Not so much because it is a rare name in Britain (although it's certainly an unusual one) but for what, and often who, it has come to represent. The best known of the Pierrepoint clan, (and subject of a recent biopic simply entitled Pierrepoint) was Albert Pierrepoint, who achieved a large measure of fame (and notoriety) as Britain's chief public executioner or "Master Hangman" as he sometimes called himself.