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Pierrepoint: A Family of Executioners Hardcover – 1 Feb 2006
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About the Author
Steven Fielding is the author of several historical crime titles such as The Hangman's Record and The Murder Casebook Series. He has worked as the Historical Consultant on the Discovery Channel series The Executioners and has contributed to several magazines such as The Criminologist.
Top customer reviews
Being a public hangman was a fairly well remunerated job at a time when wages were very , very low comparatively, so it must have given all 3 Pierrepoints a fairly decent living ? -Enough for Albert to buy a pub in fact !
The very sad thing is many of the people who were hanged during the tenure of the Pierrepoints had committed acts of murder which under French law would have been considered crimes of passion committed whilst under extreme emotional duress , like that of Ruth Ellis .
I suppose its the old phrase , "Its a dirty job, but someone has to do it " would have been their rationale and at least they dispatched people cleanly and quickly ?
Trials took a matter of days , verdicts delivered in minutes , sentences carried out within days rather than weeks until appeals were finally allowed ( but rarely granted).
Where is Lunburg - did the author actually mean Luneburg ? Sloppy writing - sorry , but it is .
I looked at another the of Fieldng's books and the text was lifted almost word for word from Wikipedia - thats not writing , its plagiaristic !
But I think of those people who were innocent and I'll bet that didn't rest easily on the conscience of any of the Pierrepoints at the final reckoning - whatever that may actually be ...............?
Steve Fielding's book is an interesting work detailing how one family became so closely tied to capital punishment in Britain in the first half of the 20th century. The book follows three of the Pierrepoint family, Henry, Thomas and Albert all of whom held the title of Chief Executioner at different times during the last century.
The book has been well researched detailing as it does. the application process and training required to become a hangman and make it onto the approved list. in addition. many of the cases are described that lead to the criminals appointment with the noose. interestingly it also talks about the many other people who were involved in judicial executions during the rein of the pierrepoint family. it could also be said that this book charts the decline in popularity of capital punishment the growing strength of the abolitionist movement in the UK especially after some high-profile cases many of whom had an appointment with executioner pierrepoint.
Although this book is about the pierrepoint family or the supporting cast of colleagues and criminals that makes this book so enjoyable
I was surprised at the apparent ease with which Henry secured a job as Assistant Executioner - he wrote a speculative letter to the Home Secretary, and within a month he was starting a week's training course to quite literally "learn the ropes"; he assisted at his first execution within nine months, and was chief executioner - fitting the noose and pulling the lever - in less than two years. After this, the family members were able to pass on inside information to each other on what the job involved and how it was done, so they had an advantage when it came to applying for vacancies - Henry taught Tom, who taught Albert, who in turn advised Robert Leslie Stewart (who conducted one of the last UK hangings in August 1964) who was the husband of one of the barmaids Albert employed in his pub.
Of necessity, the book becomes rather repetitive, usually with a description of the crime and of the condemned, the date and place of the execution, and any unusual event which occurred during the hanging and how much of a "drop" was given to each "client". Appendix 2 lists for each of the family's clients their name, age, date of execution, location, and identifies the chief and assistant executioners.
Unfortunately, my enjoyment of the book was several times disturbed by a lack of adequate proofreading. There are several references to a place called "Lunburg", which I presume was actually "Luneburg"; there's just plain carelessness