1589 John Taylor

Taylor was the under gaoler at Chester Castle. In September 1589, John Hocknall was sentenced to imprisonment for disemminating false prophecies – during his his imprisonment Taylor murdered him with a pitchfork, and was sentenced to death

1752 McCannally and Morgan

On 1st February 1752 5 Irishmen, Richard Stanley, Edward Macinally, Morgan, Patrick Boyd, and one other went into the Farm called the Raike, at Eccleston, 2 miles from Chester, to rob Mr Porter, who was there with his family. They had previously been employed there as seasonal hay makers.

The robbers threatened the family with pistols and cutlasses, and tied up one of his daughters, but the other escaped , and went to fetch her elder brother who lived at Pulford, nearby. The brother and a friend immediately.

The villains threatened Mr Porter with being thrown on the fire, but just then his son and his colleague arrived, and in the ensuing fracas, one of the robbers was shot and killed by his fellow villain. Two of the robbers fled, but one was apprehended and tied up on the spot, and the remaining two were pursued, and caught on a bridge over the River Dee.

They were tried in March 1752, (along with a servant who had not helped his master, but was not prosecuted). Richard Stanley escaped from Chester Gaol the day before his sentence of Death was pronounced. McCannelly and Morgan were hanged on 25th May 1752


Source, The Gentlemans Magazine, 1752

1755 Sarah Dean

James Bason discovered the body of a young female child in a brook near Congleton; the local justice of the peace examined the case, and asked a midwife to examine Sarah Dean, who, it had been rumoured was or had been pregnant. She admitted having given birth and hiding the body under the floor of the privy. The body of the infant was examined and found to have had its throat cut, and Sarah was sentenced to death and hanged.

1602 Arnet

At Michaelmas fair, one Arnet, servant to Mr Manley of Saltney side, cruelly murdered one of his fellows near to his Masters house, first by cutting his throat with a knife, and afterwards, missing his windpipe, he ripped up his belly with the same knife, so that his bowels fell out, and leaving him for dead, went home without taking any mney from him, as he first intended; not withstanding, the dying man came home, and lapping his bowels in his shirt, and lived until he made known who had killed him. And the same murderer was hanged in chains the year following, near to the place where the deed was done.


The History of Cheshire: Containing King’s Vale-Royal Entire, Together with …

By Daniel King, William Smith, William Webb


žKick the Bucket  – allegedly the felon was standing on the bucket with the rope around his neck – to commence the hanging you literally kicked the bucket away.

žGo West – or gone west; something that has gone very wrong; Tyburn was west from Newgate prison

žTurned Off – when the felon was sent up the ladder to be hung, the ladder was turned to dislodge them, they were literally turned off

žDerrick now a style of crane, based on the three legged gallows at Tyburn, from the hangman who devised it

žI’ll swing for you,  one of my mom’s favourites – literally I will hang for killing you

žGet Knotted 

Hangers on – to help the felon to a speedier death, his friends and family would pull on their legs to add their weight. –

žMoney for old rope The hangman not only gained possession of the felon’s clothes, but also the rope that hanged them. This would be sold, normally by the inch, and would be more expensive, the more notorious they were – hence ‘money for old rope’

žCroaked – meaning died (i.e. he’s croaked) – the noise of the felon being slowly strangled.

žPissing when you can’t whistle  It was generally thought that at the moment of death, those being hung would urinate as the muscles relaxed. As men tended to whistle whilst urinating, a comparison was drawn-

žMight as well be hung for a sheep... As stated – if the penalty was the same, you might as well go for the bigger prize.

žIn Limbo Prisoners after being sentenced to death would have a very good chance of commutation, and the cell they waited for news was named ‘limbo’, between heaven and earth.

žSticking your neck out What you had to do for the headsman

žPut your head on the block again, a reference to taking a risk, with the block being that of the headsman

Heads will roll

žPut the kibosh on it To spoil or ruin something – kibosh apparently being yiddish for black cap worn by the judge when passing a death sentence