Capital Punishment Sources Question

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Capital Punishment Sources Question

a Source A shows the execution of the gunpowder plotters against James I in 1605. As the plotters were commoners from lower classes they had been sentenced to the fare worse fate of being hanged, drawn, and quartered. This form of punishment had been introduced in the Middle Ages mainly for treason and had been used by Edward I against William Wallace of Scotland as a punishment for rebellion. During the time of the Tudors and Stuarts it had been revived, and was used mainly through the reigns of Elizabeth I, James I and Charles II. It meant that the accused be dragged to the gallows, as they were not worthy to walk on the ground given to them, he would then be hanged by the neck but cut down before whilst he was still conscious. One once tried to jump to break the neck but the rope broke causing him to be fully conscious during the next part: the accused would have parts cut off or dug out and burned in front of them. Then slashed from the crutch through to the chest their entrails taken out and burned as before in front of them, this was the part known as 'drawn' in the punishment. At this point in the execution the head would be cut off and the body would be cut in to four pieces and be at the kings disposal.

1b The plotters were treated differently depending on their social order. The punishment of being hanged drawn and quartered as a fare worse fate was often only used for commoners from lower classes. Aristocrats or nobles being higher up the scale believed they 'should not suffer a commoners fate, whatever their crime' as this is what many believed, this is what happened. If an Aristocrat was accused of a crime, depending on the skill of the executioner, death would normally be immediate and beheading was usually the most severe of the punishments. Whereas the lower class offenders would be given the most horrific form of death for the same crime a noble would only be beheaded. The punishment of being hanged drawn and quartered was the most spectacular of them all. The accused would be dragged to the gallows, as he is not worthy to walk the ground of the sewers, alone the streets he shared with others. To be hanged between heaven and earth deemed not worthy of both or either. His entrails removed because he 'inwardly had conceived and harbored in his parts such horrible treason' and to be beheaded the removal of the plans and images that had started the mischief. The penalty was as such in hope that it would deter people from committing such crimes as treason.... They believed that if people saw these horrific scenes of people being cut open whilst they were still conscious it would stop them from committing the crimes this is why by the 18th century over 200 crimes were punishable by death.

2 Source b shows the number of people executed in Surrey between 1749 and 1802. From looking at this source I can see that throughout the years the main crimes for executions were robbery and burglary. This did not mean that robbery and burglary were seen as the worst crime possible the figures were like this as these were the most common crimes of the time and so in hope to stop them the death penalty was brought in for these crimes. Between the years 1749 and 1802 on average 7 men a year were executed for robbery and 4.4 men a year along with 1 women were executed for burglary. The source does not show what I had expected it to. I thought that as the years went on executions would become rarer and rarer but it seems that between the years 1776 and 1787 though executions for robbery had decreased and other crimes had increased executions had hit a peak. 8.2 people were being executed each year. To look at the source first off is confusing as the year sets vary in size the first set has 26 years in it the second has 12 years and the third has 14 years this means you have to work out the averages first. During the end of the 18th century a person could be hanged for over 200 offences including crimes as big as murder or rape to crimes like robbery or conspiracy then down to crimes such as horse or sheep theft and pick pocketing. There is a great difference in the amount of executions between male and female whether this is because women committed fewer crimes or that the judge and jury were softer on women I am unsure. But the figures from the source show how to the 269 men being hanged between 1749 and 1802 only 13 women were executed and these were for harder crimes such as murder and robbery whereas the men were hung for smaller crimes such as pick pocketing. From source B you can also see how female executions became more and more popular from 1749 through to 1802. Between 1749 and 1775 only 1 women was hanged and that was for murder, but by 1802 12 women had been hung for crimes such as burglary, sheep theft, other theft and forgery though still only a small number compared to the amount of men executed. When we say men being executed you think of males over the age of 21 but in fact 90 per cent of executions were of boys under the age of 21 and the majority of them were as young as 10.
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3a Hanging at the beginning of the 18th century was an exciting thing it had the same effect as a Robbie Williams concert, thousands would come from the remotest places to see an important execution like a female hanging these were the publics favorite. Almost all towns had a place of public execution a scaffold as a permanent feature, in large cities like London executions were spectacular to watch. Condemned criminals were taken in the back of a cart and paraded through the town where onlookers were free to throw stones at them and shout insulting things. They ...

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