The most famous executioners



This terrible profession is necessary. After all, the existence of the death penalty implies that someone will execute it. The image of a man who, by the will of the law, deprives life is always ominous. Cinema gives us images of a man naked to the waist with a mask closed.

In life, everything is quite different. Executioners often outwardly stand out from the crowd, but in the depths of the soul a real hell unfolds. Few can “boast” that hundreds of people have been killed with impunity. To press on the treasured button, you need a remarkable willpower and a special mentality. The executioners are amazing and mysterious people, the story of the most famous people of this profession. Albert Purplet (1905-1992).

In photographs, this person usually smiles, nothing says that this person has killed at least 400 people. The Englishman grew up in an unusual family – his father and uncle were executioners. Henry Pierpoint himself chose this profession and after repeated requests he was recruited. For 9 years of service, Albert’s father hanged 105 people. All this time the man kept a diary where he wrote down the details of the execution. This book was read by the growing Albert. Already at the age of 11 in the school essay the boy wrote that he dreams of following in the footsteps of his father. This desire was understandable – a rare profession would make it possible to stand out from a faceless crowd. A great impression was made by the story of his father, who told how he respected his father. Albert filed several applications, until in 1931 he was not admitted to the state to prison in London. The career of the young executioner was rapidly developing. A special burden on the executioner lay down during and after the war. For 6-7 years he had to hang 200 war criminals. The Pierpoint has achieved real mastery – the entire procedure, starting from the procession of the prisoner from his cell and ending with the click of the lever, took from the executioner to 12 seconds. I must say that this position was rather profitable. The executioner was paid piecework – first for 10, and then for 15 pounds for execution. The work of Pierpoint during the war brought him a good capital, he even was able to buy a pub in Manchester. It is interesting that in England it is believed that the identity of the executioner should be hidden, but Pirpoynt declassified the journalists. After retiring in 1956, Albert sold the story of his life to the Sunday newspaper for an impressive sum of 400 thousand pounds. The history of the executioner served as the basis for many notes and even a documentary. The Pierpoint became a celebrity, an object of interview. It is interesting that he himself advocated the abolition of the death penalty, since in the eyes of the criminals did not see the fear of death.


The most famous executioners

Fernand Masonie (1931-2008).

And this French executioner had a family profession. Father was engaged in killing people for the sake of benefits and benefits. After all, he was free to travel, earn well, possess military weapons and even financial benefits. For the first time, Fernand joined the bloody work at the age of 16. He recalled that when a man was executed with the help of a guillotine, the blood splashed like a glass, 2-3 meters. Fate ordered that a fan of the theater and ballets Masonry had to become an executioner, unofficially helping his father. In 1958, Fernand was appointed first assistant to the executioner, working on a bloody post until 1961. The peak of the executions occurred in 1953-1957. Then the liberation movement in Algeria gave the executioners many convicts. Only during this time Masonry executed more than 200 rebels. Father and son tried to do their job as quickly as possible, so as not to prolong the torments of the doomed. The executioner scolded his American colleagues, who deliberately delayed the ceremony. Fernand recalled that the guillotine is the most painless execution. The executioner also became famous for being able to pick up his head, not letting it fall. It happened that after the execution Fernand was in blood from head to foot, shocking the guards. After retiring, the executioner shared his memories and even showed the tools of his work. The model “48” cut badly, it was necessary to help hands.In addition, convicts often pulled their heads in the shoulders, which prevented rapid execution. Masonry says that he does not feel any remorse, because he was just a punishing hand of Justice.

The most famous executioners

Richard Brandon.

The historical fact is the presence of this man in the post of executioner of London in 1649. Many sources say that it was he who carried out the death sentence handed down to King Charles I. Richard’s father, Gregory Brandon, was also an executioner, sharing mastery with the heir. Historians meet with evidence that the family was descended from the illegitimate descendant of the Duke of Saffle. Father and son deserved a glory in London. In the city even there appeared a sad jargon – “Gregory trees”. So the people began to call the gallows. And the very name of Gregory became a household name, meaning the executioner. Brandons gave their profession another nickname – “squire.” The fact that they have their service achieved the right to the coat of arms and the title of Esq., Which later went to descendants. Little is known about the execution of the king. It was believed that Richard refused to do this, but he could be forced to change his mind with the help of force. After the death of Brandon, a small document was issued that told the secrets of his profession. Thus, for every execution, the executioner received 30 pounds sterling, and in semicrones. The first victim of Brandon was Count Straffordsky.

The most famous executioners

John Ketch.

This executioner received his sad glory in the time of King Charles II. The Englishman had Irish roots. It is believed that he entered his post in 1663, although the first mention of his name dates back to 1678. Then in the newspaper was drawn a miniature in which Ketch proposed a kind of cure for rebelliousness. The fact is that the 80-ies of the XVII century were marked by mass riots. Therefore, the executions were quite a lot, the executioner for a long time did not sit without work. In the autobiography of Anthony Wood there is an excerpt dedicated to the hanging of Stephen College. The author narrates how the dead body already took off, and then quartered and burned the executioner named Ketch. This man stood out even among his colleagues with excessive cruelty, and sometimes even with strange clumsiness. For example, the famous rebel Lord William Russell was executed rather inaccurately. The executioner even had to officially apologize, explaining this by the fact that he was distracted just before the blow. And the suicide bomber fell down unsuccessfully on the block. The story goes that Ketch often inflicted painful but not fatal blows on the victim, forcing him to suffer. Whether the executioner was really awkward, or whether he was a sophisticated sadist. The last option seemed simple to the people the most truthful. As a result, July 15, 1685 James Scott, the Duke of Monmouth, paid his executioner 6 guineas, so that he executed him qualitatively. After the action of Ketch, additional compensation was guaranteed. However, John blundered – even for three blows he could not separate his head. The crowd was enraged, to which the executioner generally refused to continue what had been begun. The sheriff forced Ketch to complete the execution and two more hits finally killed the unfortunate rebel. But even after that the head remained on the body, the executioner had to cut it off with a knife. Such cruelty and unprofessionalism have angered numerous spectators – Ketch’s plows were taken away under guard from the plaques. The violent executioner died in 1686, and his name became a household name for people of this profession. Ketch’s name was mentioned by many writers, including Dickens himself. Giovanni Bugatti (1780-1865).

This person devoted his entire life to such a ignoble profession. As it turned out, his executioner was also in the Papal States. Bugatti worked in this position from 1796 to 1865, receiving even the nickname “Master of Justice”. Already in a very old age, the executioner retired Pope Pius IX, appointing a monthly pension of 30 scudos. Bugatti called his executions the accomplishment of justice, and their own convicts-patients. From 1796 to 1810, the executioner killed people with an ax, a wooden hammer, or with the help of a gallows.In France in those years became popular guillotine, this tool has come to the Papal States. The executioner quickly mastered the new murder weapon. At the same time, the guillotine used was unusual – its blade was straight, not sloping, as in France. In history there was even the image of Bugatti – it was a full and short man, well-dressed, childless, but married. In addition to his service, Giovanni together with his wife sold painted umbrellas and other souvenirs for tourists. The executioner’s house was on a narrow street in the Trastevere district, on the west bank of the Tiber. Bugatti could leave this place solely for work. Such a measure was invented solely for its protection, if suddenly the relatives of the executed will want to take revenge on the executioner. That is why the appearance of Bugatti on the bridge of the Holy Angel, which separated his area from the main part of the city, told Rome that the execution was about to take place and it was time to get ready to look at this spectacle. Today, the attributes of the famous executioner – his axes, guillotine and blood-spattered clothes – can be seen in the Museum of Criminology in Via del Gonfalon.

The most famous executioners

Jules Henry Defurno (1877-1951).

This person came from an ancient kind of executioners, rooted in the Middle Ages. Like other Frenchmen of this profession Defurno used for his work a guillotine. The first execution for the executioner took place in 1909, he acted as an assistant to Anatole Daybler. When he died in 1939, hurrying to his 401th execution, Defurno was appointed the chief executioner of the country. It was Jules Henry who conducted the last public execution in the country on June 17, 1939. Then, on the Boulevard Square in Versailles, the serial killer Eugene Weidmann was executed. Those events went down in history also because they were filmed on film from the windows of a private apartment. The executioner insisted that the execution take place in the afternoon. At this time near the prison the crowd cheered, music played, cafes worked. All this convinced the authorities that in future criminals should be executed behind closed doors and away from the eyes of curious citizens. During the Second World War, the executioner worked for the Vichy regime, he was forced to execute executions of Communists and members of the Resistance movement. Defurno went for it, but his assistants refused. The name of the executioner is connected with the first decapitation of a woman since the XIX century. In 1943, the underground midwife Maria-Louise Giraud was executed, she also became the last officially murdered state woman. After the war, the executioner was so full of fear for his deeds that he was drunk. This even led to the suicide of his son. So a heavy profession left a mark on the personal life of a person. Defurno worked as an executioner almost until his death, barely balancing on the verge of insanity.

The most famous executioners

Clément Henri Sanson.

The dynasty of the Parisian executioners Sansonov served the state since 1688. Charles Henry became famous for the execution of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, as well as Danton. It was with him in France that the guillotine appeared. And his son executed Robespierre. The last representative of the dynasty was Clément Henri. He received his post in 1840, but his career in this position lasted only 7 years. The fact is that in those years in Paris there were practically no executions. And the executioner worked piece-work, so that his bloody profession did not bring money to him. As a result, Clément Henri has done so much debt that he even laid his main instrument – the guillotine. And as luck would have it, the state order for execution was immediately enforced. However, the moneylender refused without money to give an unusual pledge. As a result, the hapless executioner was fired. But if it were not for this annoying case, the professional dynasty could exist for another hundred years – the death penalty in the country was canceled only in 1981. When the book “Notes of the Executioner” appeared in France, many attributed her creation to Henri Sanson. After all, the book narrated about the bloody era of the French Revolution and about Charles Henry Clement, personally executed more than two thousand people. However, twenty years after the publication it became known that the author is in fact Honore de Balzac.This deception had a continuation. In 1863 there were other “Notes of the Executioner”, in 6 volumes. The editor was the same Clement Henri Sanson. However, in 10 years it turned out that this is also a fake. The executioner in the early 1860s found one enterprising journalist, having bought out for 30 thousand francs the right to be printed on his behalf. Johann Reichgart (1893-1972).

This German had many executioners in the family. Only by the middle of the XVIII century the family had already 8 generations of people of this profession. Reichgart’s career began in 1924, he was the executioner and under the Weimar Republic, which tried to instill democracy in Germany, and under the Third Reich. This man conducted scrupulous records of all his executions, as a result, the researchers counted more than three thousand people. The greater number accounted for 1939-1945, when the executioner killed 2876 people. In recent years, the main clients of Reichgarth were political prisoners and traitors. Through the hands of the executioner, antifascist students from the White Rose organization passed. This execution, like others like her, was held on the guillotine Fallschwert. This low construction was a revised version of the French tool. Reichgarth had a rather large amount of work, nevertheless he clearly followed the rules of enforcement. The executioner wore a traditional apparel for people of his profession – a white shirt and gloves, a black jacket and a butterfly, and a cylinder. The duty of duty threw Reichgart into various places occupied by the Germans in Europe, including Austria and Poland. To better perform their work, the executioner even asked the government for the right to exceed the speed during their travels between places of executions. During one such trip, Reichgart fell into the encirclement of the Allied forces and drowned his mobile guillotine in the river. After the capitulation of Germany, the executioner did not raise any charges, the occupation authorities even hired Johann to help him execute the main Nazi criminals. Although Reichgart is considered one of the most effective executioners, he sought to do his work conscientiously and quickly, reducing the sufferings of the victim to a minimum. The executioner modified the design of the guillotine, which shortened the execution time to 3-4 seconds. The profession made Johann a lonely man, the people around him shunned him. My wife left him, and my son committed suicide. In the 60’s, Reichgart called for the return of the death penalty, arguing that the guillotine best suited it.

The most famous executioners

Franz Schmidt (1550-1635).

This person went down in history as Master Franz. From 1573 to 1578 he worked as an executioner in the city of Bamberg, and then Nuremberg used his services until 1617. Only after leaving his job, Schmidt was able to get rid of the stigma of “dishonest”. That was the name of prostitutes, beggars and hangmen in those days. Later, shepherds, millers and actors began to enter this group. The trouble was that such a stigma spread to the whole family, which complicated the entry into the guild or the conduct of a normal funeral. Master Franz himself turned out to be a real virtuoso of his work. In those days, various sentences were passed. The executioner killed with the help of a rope and a sword, a broken wheel, burning and immersing in water. The wheel was intended for the most notorious scoundrels, homosexuals and counterfeiters were burned at the stake. According to the judicial rules of the Holy Roman Empire, adopted in 1532 by immersion in water, female child killers were executed. However, Schmidt himself, with the support of the clergy, succeeded in replacing this type of execution by cutting off the head with a sword. Throughout his career, the hangman kept a diary in which he indicated the punishments he had committed over the years. On the pages there were memories of 361 executions and 345 punishments. The executioner, in fact, also defiled people, and also cut off his ears and fingers. The first records carry very little information, but over the years, Schmidt became more talkative, even describing the details of the crime of the convict. The diary of the executioner was a unique document from the point of view of both the history of law and social history.The original has not survived to the present day, but the modern edition speaks of four hand-written copies. They were made in the XVII-XIX centuries, today they are stored in the libraries of Bamberg and Nuremberg. And for the first time they printed Schmidt’s diary in 1801. William Colquaft (1800-1879).

The official number of executions of this executioner is unknown. However, the researchers believe that there were about 450 victims, of which about 35 women. One of the most famous victims was Francois Courvoisier, who robbed and then killed his master lord. The execution took place on July 6, 1840. The executioner himself was born in the provincial town of Baddow, received the profession of a shoemaker. Worked as a night watchman. Selling pies with meat near the prison, he met with executioner John Foxton from Newgate prison. He gave William a job, Kolkraft started for 10 shillings a week to flog juvenile offenders. When Foxton died in 1829, his successor officially appointed Kolkrafta. On April 13, 1829, just nine days after taking office, the executioner was first executed by a woman, Esther Hibner. The criminal, which the press christened “The Evil Monster”, having frozen her apprentice girl by hunger. Those events turned out to be so resonant that after the execution of the verdict, a crowd of people scanned “Ur Urkrafta!”. For the first time since 1700, a married couple was executed, Mary and Frederick Manning were injured for killing a rich lover of his wife. The last public execution took place on May 26, 1868, after which, according to English law, people were killed in private. A little earlier, the executioner held the last public execution of a woman – 2,000 people watched for two or three minutes the sentenced Francis Kidder struggled in a loop. It was Kolkraft who became the first to be executed privately. The career of the executioner lasted 45 years. Contemporaries Kolkrafta recall that he was incompetent in his work. Historians suggest that by delaying the execution and torment of the victim, the executioner simply entertained the audience, who sometimes gathered up to 30 thousand people. Kolkraft sometimes swayed on his feet, and sometimes even climbed on his shoulders, trying to break his neck. As a result, the executioner was forcibly sent to retirement for incompetence. He was given a pension of 25 shillings. To old age, William turned out to be a morose man with long hair and a beard and shabby black clothes.



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