Thomas Pierrepoint

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Thomas Pierrepoint
Born Thomas William Pierrepoint
1870
Sutton Bonington, Nottinghamshire, England
Died 11 February 1954 (aged 84)
Bradford, West Riding of Yorkshire, England
Citizenship British
Occupation Executioner
Years active 1906–1946
Parents Thomas and Mary Pierrepoint
Relatives Henry Pierrepoint (brother),
Albert Pierrepoint (nephew)

Thomas William Pierrepoint (1870–1954) was one of the United Kingdom's executioners from 1906 until 1946. He was the brother of Henry and uncle of Albert.[1]

He was born in Sutton Bonington,[2] Nottinghamshire, the second child and eldest son of Thomas and Mary Pierrepoint. He worked as a hangman for 39 years until his mid-seventies in 1946. He is credited with having carried out 294 hangings in his career,[3] although no precise figure has been verified, as some of these were in Ireland. Among those he executed was the notorious poisoner Frederick Seddon in 1912. During World War II he was appointed as executioner by the US Military and was responsible for 13 out of 16 hangings of US soldiers at the Shepton Mallet military prison in Somerset. In this capacity, Pierrepoint carried out executions not only for murder but also rape which, at the time, was a capital crime under USA military law although not in British law. In most of these cases he was assisted by his nephew Albert who was, in turn, "Number One" for the remaining three executions.

In 1940, his medical fitness for the job was questioned by a Medical Officer who called him "unsecure" and doubted "whether his sight was good". The Prison Commission discreetly asked for reports on his performance during executions in the following time, but evidently found no reason to take action, although one report said that Thomas Pierrepoint had "smelled strongly of drink" on two occasions when reporting at the prison. This, however, appears to clash with Thomas Pierrepoint's instruction to Albert (when the latter acted as his assistant) not to take a drink if on the job and never to accept the drink customarily given to all witnesses at executions in the Republic of Ireland.

Thomas never officially "retired", rather his name was removed from the list of executioners and invitations to conduct executions ceased to arrive.

Thomas died at the home of his daughter in Bradford on 11 February 1954, aged 84.[4]

References[edit]

  1. ^ A grisly family tradition. BBC Nottingham. Retrieved on 17 October 2009.
  2. ^ 1871 Census: Sutton Bonington; RG10; Piece 3259; Folio 92; Page 11.
  3. ^ Fielding 2008, pp. 288–294
  4. ^ Fielding 2008, p. 257

Bibliography[edit]

  • Fielding, Steve (2008). Pierrepoint: A Family of Executioners. London: John Blake Publishing Ltd. ISBN 978-1-84454-611-4.