Sunday, 7 February 2010

Executions In Carmarthen

Inbetween 1752 and 1836 the death sentence was carried out on the second day following sentencing unless it was a Sunday (in which case the sentence took place on Monday). Exceptions to the rule were that the judge could respite the death sentence while the condemned sought a reprieve. In some cases, the gallows were built on the very spot where the crime had actually been committed, so that erecting the gallows could delay proceedings. No execution took place on Good Friday. It was customery for the body to be dissected before burial or grimly hung in chains for public display.
It was quite usual for hangings to be carried out in public. In Carmarthen were two locations where executions were carried out; Babel Hill in Pensarn was the place for County executions, and another for town executions was near the Royal Oak Common in Johnstown. By the end of the 18th century it became evident that the lengthy procession to the gallows (roughly one mile) allowed for no crowd control and the condemned suffered additional stress of having to walk the distance to his/her death with crowds shouting and jeering.
The last man to suffer the death walk from Carmarthen Gaol to Pensarn was Rees Thomas Rees in 1817. A better, safer spot had to be found, and so a new public gallows was built inside the front wall of the County Gaol facing Spillman Street.
The last public execution at Carmarthen Gaol was that of David Evans in 1829. Crowds who arrived to see it stretched all along Spillman Street, and following custom, the dissected body was put on public display before burial within the prison grounds. It would be nearly 60 years (1888) before Carmarthen was to hold another execution, which by then was not a public spectacle.

1 comment:

  1. The walk to the post seeing the hangman and the rope knowing this is it ,I wonder did eanyone fight their way to the gallows trying to prolong their fate ,Does anyone know was the rope the same thickness for every one and how thick was it ,Has Carmarthen got a hangman's rope from the 1800s on show somewhere, its interesting to know