The Day from Hell (1)

Have you ever had the day from hell? When more or less everything that could go wrong, did go wrong?

Do you ever think that you struggle to hold down your job? Do you ever think that you are absolutely useless and it’s only a matter of time before your ineptitude is discovered?

Well, trust me, you will never approach the levels achieved in the 1680s by Jack Ketch, the King’s Executioner:

On July 21st 1683, Jack attempted to execute Lord Russell. The story comes from  the incomparably named “Great B#stards of History: Famous Illegitimate Children Who Went on to Achieve Greatness”. That title was the winning entry in the “Book Title of the Week” competition last week. Here’s Jack:

“Ketch wielded the axe with such lack of simple dexterity that the victim suffered horrifically under blow after blow, each excruciating but not in itself lethal. The gory display created such outrage that Ketch felt moved to write and publish a pamphlet in which he excused his performance with the claim that Lord Russell had failed to “place himself as was most suitable” and that he was therefore distracted while taking aim on his neck.”

Blame anything. Blame anybody. The victim. The bad weather, A loudly barking dog. My little brother. Never admit you are a total incompetent.

Two years later, on July 15th 1685, Ketch was given the job of lopping off the head of James Scott, the Duke of Monmouth.

“Cometh the hour, cometh the man.” as they say. The execution of Lord Russell was a smooth job, slickly done, compared to what would happen with the Duke of Monmouth. But Jack Ketch could not turn down this opportunity for a comeback.

This was the big one. The climax of his career. Tower Hill in London. Thousands and thousands of people watching. And big money if he did it right.

I’ll tell you very soon exactly what happened.




Filed under Criminology, History, Humour, Politics

26 responses to “The Day from Hell (1)

  1. Great, suspenseful, post, John

  2. I read that the man who beheaded Thomas Cromwell made a bit of a mess of it but there is a suspicion that he was paid to do so by the Duke of Norfolk.

  3. I’ve seen that first photo before – but jeez, I still can’t figure out how she did it!! haha Good post, John.

  4. I’ll be waiting. Love the pictures.

    • I think the pictures are what the Internet does best. Finding you a situation or an event that you had never even imagined. A cat playing the piano or a dog surfing. In this case it’s somebody even worse at manoeuvring a car than I am….and that’s saying something!

  5. Gruesome. A bad workman always blames his tools.

  6. A gruesome job. How did such a man sleep at night without seeing their accusing heads?

  7. I heard somewhere that many executioners botched their jobs. Wielding such heavy and cumbersome axes onto such a small target was difficult. He sounds completely incompetent though and knowing he was your man, would no doubt give you the jitters to say the least! Can’t wait to see the outcome!

  8. Christopher M. Mann

    Oh you tease!

  9. Oh come on! You can’t leave us hanging like that.

  10. atcDave

    Poor, poor executioner. I feel sooooo sorry for him…

  11. Hell indeed for the victims.

  12. I don’t think customer satisfaction was high on the list for many of the public executioners – they do seem to have been a particularly useless bunch.

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