Bartholomew Binns

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Bartholomew Binns
Born 1839
Died 1911
Nationality English
Occupation Executioner
Years active 1883–84
Known for Botched hangings

Bartholomew Binns (1839–1911) was an English executioner from November 1883 to March 1884. He had previously assisted William Marwood at executions,[1] and when Marwood died on September 4, 1883 after a brief illness, Binns was appointed to the position of Executioner for the City of London and Middlesex. Before becoming hangman, Binns was employed as foreman platelayer at Dewsbury by the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Company, but after he got the post he no longer worked anywhere.[2]

Like many hangmen of his day, Binns had no formal training and carried out executions according to his own methods and concepts. He was perhaps England's least successful hangman, responsible for the deaths of nine men and two women;[3] his short career was "littered with complaints of drunkenness and incompetence".[4] His first "solo" execution was that of Henry Powell on 6 November 1883 at Wandsworth Prison.[1]

One of the executions Binns seriously botched was that of Henry Dutton on 3 December 1883. The 22-year old Dutton was to die for the murder of his wife's grandmother. Dutton weighed just 128 pounds and was given a drop of 7'6" using an over-thick rope with the eyelet positioned at the back of his neck. Death resulted from strangulation. The doctor at the prison was dissatisfied with the way Binns had conducted the hanging, and there was a strong suspicion that Binns had been drinking beforehand.[3]

The last execution Binns carried out was the hanging of 18-year old Michael McLean in Liverpool at Kirkdale Gaol on 10 March 1884.[3] Major Leggett, the governor of Kirkdale Gaol, said that he thought "that Binns had no idea how to do his work satisfactorily". He also said that Binns had been drunk when he arrived at the gaol on the Saturday afternoon.[2] When he turned up drunk, the governor sent for a local man, Samuel Heath, to assist him. Binns refused Heath's assistance and insisted on carrying out the execution alone.[4] After the trapdoor was released, McLean was left painfully choking to death. It eventually took 13 minutes for his heart to stop.[3] After the formal complaint about this and his drunken behaviour, Binns was removed from the Home Office list of hangmen a few days later.[2]

In November 1884 Binns appeared in court after having accused his mother-in-law of stealing his watch. During the case his daughter alleged that he had carried out various experiments on hanging cats and dogs at his home.[5]

Binns later assisted Thomas Henry Scott in several hangings in Ireland around the turn of the century. His last job was the execution of John Toole on 7 March 1901.[6] Binns died in 1911.

See also[edit]



  1. ^ a b "The English hangmen 1850–1964". Retrieved 30 October 2010 
  2. ^ a b c "The Binns Family Newsletter". Retrieved 30 October 2010 
  3. ^ a b c d "The Aberdare Committee". Retrieved 30 October 2010 
  4. ^ a b Fielding (2008), p. 22
  5. ^ "Hangman Binns's Experiments". The New York Times. 21 November 1884. Retrieved 20 April 2013 
  6. ^ Fielding (2008), pp. 263–264


  • Fielding, Steve (2008), The Executioner's Bible: The Story of Every British Hangman of the Twentieth Century, John Blake Publishing, ISBN 978-1-84454-648-0