HL Deb 23 April 1847 vol 91 cc1240-1

said, he wished to refer to a statement made by the Marquess of Westmeath on Monday last, who, on that occasion, stated that he had been led, and not unnaturally so, by an account which he had read in the newspapers, to believe that a very great impropriety and want of care had occurred with respect to the mode of inflicting the execution of capital punishment on an unhappy convict at Bury St. Edmund's on Saturday last. On that occasion an unfortunate woman was executed for the murder of her husband, she having previously confessed her guilt. The noble Marquess stated that it had been reported that the punishment was carried into effect in a manner which, if true, must be most wounding to their Lordships' feelings, and would naturally be, as the noble Marquess stated that it was most revolting to the feelings of those who witnessed the execution. In consequence of this statement, he (the Marquess of Lansdowne) had considered it to be his duty to make inquiry into the circumstances; and he was happy to inform the noble Marquess and their Lordships, that so far from being able to confirm the statement of the noble Marquess, on the contrary, he had the authority of several most respectable persons, among whom were a clergyman and two magistrates of Bury St. Edmund's, for stating that no occurrence of the description alluded to by the noble Marquess did take place; but that the execution was conducted with the greatest propriety and solemnity, and that the unfortunate person did not undergo a greater degree of suffering than what necessarily belonged to the infliction of the punishment to which she had been sentenced. He had letters from those who were present on the occasion, stating that every proper attention was paid to the unhappy convict—that she expressed her gratitude for the kindness that had been shown towardsher—and that nothing could exceed the awe and solemn effect which the execution produced on those who had assembled to witness it. It was quite true, some person had made application for admission to the gaol on the morning of the execution, but was refused; and that circumstance might perhaps have given rise to that sort of statement which the noble Marquess had seen in the newspapers, but which statement was really contrary to the fact. The noble Marquess, he was sure, would agree with him that everything was not true that appeared in the newspapers.


said, he was happy to hear the explanation of the noble Marquess. The subject was well worthy of being noticed. In the north of England, not long back, a similar case had occurred.

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