Today in London’s rebel history: a crowd pelts the hangman, Southwark, 1769

In the ‘High Street, Southwark’, on Monday 6 March 1769. “a tradesman, convicted of wilful and corrupt perjury, stood in and upon the Pillory, and was severely treated by the populace. They also pelted Turlis, the executioner, with stones and brick-bats, which cut him in the Head and Face in a terrible manner.”

Thomas Turlis was the official hangman for nearly 20 years till his death in April 1771. Like all the chief executioners he was a hated figure: many of the poor knew they were a minor crime away from the gallows. More than once Turlis faced the anger of a London crowd. In this case, the crowd were already carrying out popular justice on a local merchant and took the opportunity to have a go at Turlis as a bonus…

Turlis once had a fist-fight with his assistant over who got to keep the hanging rope (after he hanged Lord Ferrers for murder) – presumably he could have made a packet selling bits of it off as souvenirs.

Turlis will make another appearance in the 2016 London Rebel History Calendar in December…

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An entry in the 2016 London Rebel History Calendar – check it out online

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