The Lumber Room

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Archive for November 7th, 2006

You just can’t kill some people, apparently

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From a fortune quote:

The Least Successful Executions
        History has furnished us with two executioners worthy of attention.
The first performed in Sydney in Australia.  In 1803 three attempts were
made to hang a Mr. Joseph Samuels.  On the first two of these the rope
snapped, while on the third Mr. Samuels just hung there peacefully until he
and everyone else got bored.  Since he had proved unsusceptible to capital
punishment, he was reprieved.
        The most important British executioner was Mr. James Berry who
tried three times in 1885 to hang Mr. John Lee at Exeter Jail, but on each
occasion failed to get the trap door open.
        In recognition of this achievement, the Home Secretary commuted
Lee's sentence to "life" imprisonment.  He was released in 1917, emigrated
to America and lived until 1933.
                -- Stephen Pile, "The Book of Heroic Failures"

I looked for, and found references to Joseph Samuels here.
The latter, John Lee, seems to have inspired even more curiosity: there is an account here, he gets a chapter of a book here, and the BBC had a programme about him, based on the work of someone who has done an incredible amount of research on the case, and even written a book! Quite interesting.


Written by S

Tue, 2006-11-07 at 21:42:16

Posted in funny