No. 1141: Stoke Newington Church Street, N16
Stoke Newington Church Street, London, N16. Photo ©RogerDean 2014
London and Londoners in the Eighteen-Fifties and Sixties – Alfred Rosling Bennett, 1924:
In February were tried and condemned the Flowery Land “pirates ” – six Philippine Spaniards and one Levantine – sailors who had mutinied and murdered the captain and mates of the British ship they were serving in, not without provocation if their defence had any substance in it. All were found guilty and sentenced to death, but two were reprieved. The simultaneous hanging of five men was without parallel since the execution of the Cato Street conspirators in 1828, and immense crowds assembled and made the vicinity of Newgate a bear-garden from the previous Sunday evening and onward through the night. Calcraft was the hangman – a short, thickset shabby man, whose venerable white locks, beard and sinister face belied the cringing and fawning deference of his behaviour. I had been familiar with this expert’s name from early boyhood, as well as that of his notorious predecessor, in Judge Jefferys’ s days, Jack Ketch, and I fancy few were more generally known, if not esteemed. It was said that he had two handsome marriageable daughters who never received either offers or valentines, and that a passenger, on recognising them in an omnibus, had left so precipitately that he had, poor man, forgotten to pay his fare. Mr. Jonas, Governor of Newgate, another personage well before the public gaze, had general charge of the spectacle.
It was well stage-managed. There were five ropes on the gibbet, to which Calcraft brought out the culprits one by one, adjusting the noose on No. 1 and then going back into the prison for No. 2, and so on. When all appeared to be ready a cry went round the mob, “Hats off!” and a great groan arose when the drop fell and left all five men struggling in the air. The fall then given was short; necks were seldom dislocated, and strangulation was the usual result.
[The little ceramic tile in the photograph above can be found on a wall in Stoke Newington Church Street, N16. Despite the object on the tile’s right looking not dissimilar to a noose, it is I believe, meant to be a triangle, going by the fact that the tiles surrounding it had various other musical instruments depicted on them. R.D.]