Bird had attacked and murdered a 12 year old boy who was collecting money for his disabled father. The victim had been stabbed in the throat with a knife and robbed of nine shillings. Bird admitted he had planned the crime with his brother.
Despite what you may think, it was rare for people as young as this to be hanged in 1831. One hundred years earlier, it was a different matter altogether….
15 year old Elizabeth Marsh was convicted of the murder of her grandfather. She was hanged in public on Monday, the 17th of March, 1794 . Four juveniles were hanged at Tyburn on Monday, the 20th of May 1717 . They were 18 year old Martha Pillow who had been convicted of stealing in a shop, 17 year old Thomas Price and 18 year old Joseph Cornbach for housebreaking and 17 year old Christopher Ward for burglary . 15 year old Elizabeth Morton was hanged at Nottingham on the 8th of April 1763 for the murder of two of her employer’s children. 15 year old James Booty (age also given as 12) suffered at Tyburn on Monday, the 21st of May 1722 for the rape of a 5 year old girl. William Jennings, aged 12 , was hanged at Tyburn on Monday, the 12th of March 1716 , having been convicted of housebreaking at the February Sessions.
Possibly the youngest children ever executed in Britain were Michael Hammond and his sister, Ann, whose ages were given as 7 and 11 respectively in a book published in 1907. Previously, no claims as to their precise ages had been made, although they were referred to as being “under age,” without specifying what this term actually meant, and as “the Boy and the Girl” as they were both small. They were reportedly hanged at (Kings) Lynn on Wednesday, the 28th of September 1708 for theft. The local press did not, however, consider the executions of two children newsworthy! A painting of the two being taken in the cart to the gallows appears in Paul Richard’s book ”King’s Lynn”. It was reported that there was violent thunder and lightning after the execution and that their hangman, Anthony Smyth, died within a fortnight of it.
The Bloody Eighteenth Century? Why was hanging the answer to everything in the 1700s?
The Bloody Code No of crimes carrying the death penalty 16885017651601815225 225 1815 160 1765 50 1688 No. of crimes carrying the death penalty
Some of the crimes carrying the death penalty in the 1700s
stealing horses or sheep
destroying turnpike roads
cutting down trees
pick pocketing goods worth more than one shilling
being out at night with a blackened face
unmarried mother concealing a stillborn child
stealing from a rabbit warren
"being in the company of Gypsies for one month" "strong evidence of malice in a child aged 7–14 years of age" "blacking the face or using a disguise whilst committing a crime" Plus…
Sir Samuel Romilly speaking to the House of Commons on capital punishment in 1810, declared that
"..[there is] no country on the face of the earth in which there [have] been so many different offences according to law to be punished with death as in England."
Whilst executions for murder, burglary and robbery were common, the death sentences of minor offenders were often not carried out. In 1808 Romilly had the death penalty removed from pick- pocketing and other trivial offences and started reform that continued over the next 50 years.
Gibbeting (the public display of executed corpses) was abolished in 1832 and hanging in chains was abolished in 1834.