British Hangman Henry Pierrepoint kept meticulous notes of the 105 prisoners he killed over his nine-year career as state hangman, grading them on the thickness of their neck.
The macabre notebook contains details about each, including their height and weight – always adding a macabre description of the strength of their neck ranging from “very strong” to “feeble”.
But the neat handwriting in the journal, which is due to be sold at Frank Marshall auctioneers in Knutsford, Cheshire, next week, became increasingly illegible by the end of his foreshortened career, with pages often littered with ink smudges.
The father of Albert Pierrepoint, Britain’s most prolific executioner, and brother of fellow hangman Thomas Pierrepoint, Henry Pierrepoint carried worked as a hangman from 1901 to 1910 when he “retired” abruptly at the age of 32.
His sudden departure from the job remained a mystery for over 90 years and Albert Pierrepoint never spoke about it.
It was finally resolved seven years ago when documents released by the Public Record Office showed that he had been struck off the official Home Office list after turning up for an execution at Chelmsford Prison in July 1910 “considerably the worse for drink”.
Now his pocket book provides the first evidence that this may not have been an isolated incident.
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