Diary of Britain’s most notorious HANGMAN who executed Nazis, spies and murderers up at auction for £25,000 – along with his spooky ‘death mask’
AN EXECUTION diary kept by Britain’s most famous hangman is up at auction for £25,000.
Albert Pierrepoint is responsible for the deaths of around 600 people during his 25-year career as an executioner in the mid-20th Century.
The auction sale includes a number of Albert’s personal effects, including his diary, watch chain, and his “death mask” – a plaster cast of his face and hands taken after he died.
Albert is best known for being involved in the execution of Nazi war criminals.
By the time his career ended in 1956, Albert had hanged around 200 people convicted of war crimes in Germany and Austria.
He’s also responsible for the hanging of high-profile murders, including Gordon ‘the Blackout Ripper’ Cummins, John ‘the Acid Bath Murderer’ Haigh, and John ‘the Rillington Place Strangler’ Christie.
Albert also executed the last woman to be hanged in the UK: Ruth Ellis.
His execution diary – which is part of the “remarkable” haul up for auction – lists a total of 434 executions.
The notes include personal details of the prisoners, including their name, age, height, weight and drop.
It also includes the site of execution, and notes on the prisoner’s frame and neck.
Prisoners were described in terms like “very heavy body, ordinary neck, wirey, very thin neck, little flabby”.
The leather-bound tome is embossed with Albert’s name, and also makes notes about high-profile prisoners.
Prisoners hanged included: “German, Dutch and Belgium spies, French Canadian, USA, IRA, British Soldier.”
The haul of items also includes an amber and ivory cigar holder and case, which belonged to Albert’s father Henry, who was also an executioner.
A silver watch chain worn by Albert and Henry (as well as uncle Tom, also a hangman) at hundreds of executions is also on sale.
There’s also a series of documents and photographs, revealing hangings in the Egyptian desert and a newspaper article about a pro-Nazi Brit hanged by Albert.
“This is the most fascinating set of items I have ever sold,” said Giles Hodges, director of Boldon Auction Galleries.
“It provides a remarkable insight into the role of the executioner and I suppose that someone had to do the job.”
Describing what job he would like to do while at school, Albert said: “When I leave school I should like to be public executioner like my dad is, because it needs a steady man with good hands like my dad and my Uncle Tom and I shall be the same.”
Britain’s dark history of hanging
Here’s what you need to know…
- Hanging as a form of judicial execution in England is believed to date back to the Anglo-Saxon times, between the 5th and 11th centuries
- The first known hangman was Thomas de Warblynton in the 1360s, who is named in historical records
- Britain’s last hangmen were Robert Leslie Stewart and Harry Allen, who conducted the last executions in 1964
- Hangings were originally performed in public until 1868
- The traditional site in London was at Tyburn, west of the City of London on the road to Oxford
- It was used on eight hanging days a year
- In 1965, Parliament passed the Murder (Abolition of Death Penalty) Act, which temporarily abolished capital punishment for murder for five years
- The Act was then renewed in 1969 making it permanent
- However, the death penalty wasn’t officially abolished until 1998, with the Crime and Disorder Act and the Human Rights Act
- The last woman to be hanged was Ruth Ellis, who was executed by Albert Pierrepoint on July 13, 1955
- Britain’s last hanging took place in 1964, when two men were hanged for murdering van driver John Alan West
Albert assisted in his first execution alongside his uncle in Dublin in December 1932, to hang Patrick McDermott, a murderous farmer.
And Albert’s first job as a lead executioner was in October 1941, to hang gang member and killer Antonio ‘Babe’ Mancini.
After World War II, Albert was appointed as an honorary Lieutenant-Colonel, killing 200 war criminals between 1945 and 1949.
He is believed to have executed as many as 10 people a day.
Prisoners included camp commandant Josef Kramer, dubbed ‘The Beast of Belsen’, Irma Grese, known as the ‘Hyena of Auschwitz’, and Dr Bruno Tesch, who helped invent the Zyklon B chemical used to murder millions of people in the Holocaust.
Albert Pierrepoint died at a nursing home in 1992, aged 87.
MOST READ IN SCIENCE
The Sun recently revealed the most gruesome burial sites uncovered by archaeologists around the world.
An ancient skull has revealed that the Mayans used people’s severed heads as incense burners after brutal sacrifices.
And a huge collection of giant ancient jars where people dumped corpses a thousand years ago has been found in Southeast Asia.
Would you like to read this diary? Let us know in the comments!