Sheep theft, forging a £2 bank note and killing a ram are just some of the bizarre crimes for which people have been executed in Cornwall – a detailed database has revealed.

The comprehensive list, which can be found here, details exactly who was executed in Cornwall, when they were executed and for what crime.

The list throws up some unusual entries and heavy punishments, often involving crimes for which people these days would receive a slap on the wrist.

Steal a sheep or some grain and the hangman and his noose would have been knocking at your cell door.

The majority of the executions took place at the sinister Bodmin Jail, which was built during George II’s reign.

Public executions were quite the spectacle and drew a jeering crowd from miles around, who peered through the gaps in the gates to catch a glimpse of the action.

In England in 1820 there were 220 crimes for which people could be issued the death penalty, today there are none.

In addition to those who were actually executed in Cornwall, many were sent to Australia and the colonies, magistrates believing that if the journey didn’t kill them then the diseases and other dangers of the new world definitely would.

The majority of the hangings listed were conducted in public.

The executions

(Date of execution, name, crime, place and manner of execution)

  • 1576 or 1577, Abbott, unknown, publicly hanged at Launceston.
  • 1576 or 1577, Julian Gliddon, unknown, hanged at Launceston.
  • 1576 or 1577, William Kylter, unknown, hanged at Launceston.
  • 1576 or 1577, William Pearce, unknown, hanged at Launceston.
  • 1576 or 1577, Hugh Wooger, unknown, hanged at Launceston.
  • November 1577, Cuthbert Maine, preferring the Catholic faith, hung, draw and quartered in Launceston Market Place. Head set on the castle of Launceston and quarters distributed to towns as an example.
  • 1549, Nicholas Bowyer Mayor, his part in the rebellion, publicly hanged at Bodmin Mount Folly.
  • 1674, unknown male, theft, hanged at Gallows Field, Blisland.
  • 1720, Rosevear, riot and theft of grain at Par, hanged at Launceston.
  • August 1735, Henry Rogers, murder of William Carpenter, hanged at Launceston.
  • August 1735, John Sheel, murder of William Carpenter, hanged at Launceston.
  • August 1735, Henry Fellows, housebreaking, hanged at Bodmin Five Ways.
  • May 1736, John Notting, murder of William Lowe, hanged at Bodmin Five Ways.
  • August 1736, John Morris, murder of Margery Plyn, hanged at Bodmin Five Ways.
  • July 1739. Richard Cairn, murder of William Cressell, hanged at Bodmin Five Ways.
  • March 1741, Richard Barns, highway robbery, hanged at Bodmin.
  • July 1741, Abraham Mead, murder of Abraham Popjay, hanged at Bodmin.
  • July 1741, John Harris, horse theft, hanged at Bodmin.
  • August 1742, Alice Warne, murder of her child, hanged at Bodmin.
  • August 1742, William Francis, theft of a sheep, hanged at Bodmin.
  • March 1743, John Pegrose, theft of a horse, hanged at Bodmin.
  • March 1745, Gabriel Mitchell, murder of Daniel O’ Neal, hanged at Bodmin.
  • March 1746, Margaret Lukey, murder of Alexander Mellows, hanged at Bodmin.
  • March 1748, John Boyens, murder, hanged at Bodmin.
  • August 1755, Grace Smith, murder of a female infant, hanged at Bodmin.
  • May 1760, Francis Lafond, highway robbery, hanged at Bodmin Five Ways.
  • May 1760, Francis Harris, highway robbery, hanged at Bodmin Five Ways.
  • October 1767, William Pearse, stole from a wreck, hanged at Launceston.
  • April 1771, Catherine Burgess, murder of female child, hanged at Launceston St Stephens.
  • August 1771, Ann Chapman, murder of female child, hanged at Launceston St Stephens.
  • April 1773, Richard Simons, highway robbery, hanged at Bodmin Five Ways.
  • March 1776, Mary Penylegon, murder of male child, hanged at Launceston.
  • April 1777, Stephen Harris (aged 22), burglary, hanged at Bodmin Five Ways.
  • March 1785, Philip Randall (27), burglary in Truro, hanged at Bodmin Five Ways.
  • March 1785, Robert Brown (33), murder of a boy, hanged at Bodmin Five Ways.
  • July 1785, William Hill (33), murder of John Pascoe, hanged at Bodmin Five Ways.
  • August 1785, John Richards (25), highway robbery with violence from Peter Jane, hanged at Bodmin Five Ways.
  • April 1786, Thomas Roberts (34), stealing an ewe sheep from Stephen Polkinghorne, hanged at Bodmin.
  • April 1786, Francis Coath (45), as above.
  • April 1787, John Gould (23), burglary at Budock, hanged at Bodmin.
  • April 1787, James Elliot (35), robbing Royal Mail on the highway, hanged at Bodmin.
  • August 1787, William Congdon (23), burglary at Rame, hanged at Bodmin.
  • September 1788, carpenter James Kitto (32), burglary, hanged at Bodmin following two appeals and stays of execution.
  • March 1791, Michael Taylor (22), stealing a mare, hanged at Bodmin.
  • March 1791, John Carne (23), burglary, hanged at Bodmin.
  • March 1791, James Symons (25), stealing an ox, hanged at Bodmin.
  • September 1791, Benjamin Willoughby (20), murder of innkeeper at Helston, hanged at Bodmin.
  • September 1791, John Taylor (26), as above.
  • September 1791, William Moyle, killing a mare, hanged at Bodmin.
  • 1793, Jan Joice and John Williams, burglary at Launceston Post Office, hanged at Launceston.
  • March 1793, William Trevarvas (25), murder of Martha Blewitt, hanged at either Bodmin or Launceston.
  • April 1795, James Frederick, highway robbery of Thomas Leane, hanged at Bodmin.
  • August 1795, Joseph Williams (28), sheep stealing, hanged at Bodmin.
  • March 1796, GA Selfcombe (35), murder of a Dutch man, hanged at Bodmin.
  • August 1796, John Hoskin, stealing wheat in Redruth, hanged at Bodmin.
  • September 1798, William Howarth, theft of a purse, hanged at Bodmin.
  • April 1801, William Roskilly (34), burglary in Mawgan, hanged at Bodmin.
  • August 1802, Richard Andrews, forgery and fraud, hanged outside walls of Bodmin Jail.
  • September 1802, John Vanstone (37), burglary, hanged at Bodmin.
  • September 1802, William Lee (60), as above.
  • April 1805, John Williamson (32), breaking into shop, hanged at Bodmin.
  • April 1805, James Joyce (27), as above.
  • 1810, Lawrence Roach, murder, thought hanged at Launceston.
  • April 1812, Pierre Francois La Roche (24), forgery of a £2 bank note, hanged at Bodmin.
  • May 1812, William Wyatt (40), murder by drowning in Fowey, hanged at Bodmin.
  • June 1812, mother and daughter, murder of infant at Lower St Columb, believed hanged at Bodmin.
  • September 1812, Elizabeth Osbourne (20), setting fire to corn stack, hanged at Bodmin.
  • March 1814, William Burns (21), murder of John Allen in Sennen, hanged at Launceston.
  • March 1815, John Simms, murder of Joseph Burnett, hanged at Launceston.
  • August 1818, William Rowe Junior (41), sheep stealing, hanged at Launceston.
  • August 1820, Sarah Polgrean (34), murder of her husband with poison, hanged at Bodmin.
  • September 1820, Michael Stephens (27), theft and murder of a ram, hanged at Bodmin.
  • April 1821, John Barnicott (24), murder of William Hancock at Cury, hanged at Launceston.
  • April 1821, John Thompson (17), same as above.
  • September 1821, Nicholas Gard (42), murder of Thomas Hoskin, believed hanged at Bodmin.
  • April 1825, William Oxford (21), setting fire to a corn stack, hanged at Bodmin.
  • April 1827, James Eddy (29), robbing Jane Cock with violence, hanged at Bodmin.
  • August 1828, Elizabeth Cummings (22), murdering her child son, hanged at Bodmin.
  • August 1828, Thomas Pring Coombe (21), two housebreakings, hanged at Bodmin.
  • August 1834, William Hocking (57), bestiality, hanged at Bodmin.
  • March 1835, John Henwood (29), murder of his parents, hanged at Bodmin.
  • April 1840, William Lightfoot (35), murder of Neville Norway, hanged at Bodmin.
  • April 1840, James Lightfoot (24), as above.
  • August 1844, Matthew Weekes (23), murder of Charlotte Dymond near Rough Tor, hanged at Bodmin.
  • August 1845, Benjamin Ellison (61), murder of Elizabeth Ruth Seaman, hanged at Bodmin.
  • April 1854, James Holman (27), murder of his wife in Crowan, hanged at Bodmin.
  • August 1856, murder of William Nevan (44), murder of sergeant major Robinson, hanged at Bodmin.
  • August 1862, John Doidge (28), murder of John Drew near Launceston, hanged at Bodmin.
  • August 1878, Selina Wadge (28), murder of her two-year-old son at Altarnun, hanged at Bodmin within the compound in a degree of privacy.
  • November 1882, William Bartlett (46), murder of a child at Lanivery, hanged at Bodmin in private.
  • July 1901, Valeri Giovanni (31), murder on the high seas, hanged at Bodmin in private execution shed.
  • July 1909, William Hampton (24), murder of Emily Barnes Trevarthen Tredrea at St Erth, last man hanged at Bodmin in private execution shed.



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