Monday 5th January 1846

“Evening, after work, went to Mrs Olive in Crown Court, Soho, and read to her my log book for the preceding year. Ann Fox there also. Mrs Olive very well and seemingly in good spirits. Took my drab trousers and black roll-collar waistcoat for common use. Annual Sprat Supper at home. This morning at 8 o’clock the woman Martha Browning expiated her crime on the scaffold in the Old Bailey, for the murder of Elizabeth Mundell on the 1st of December last. The culprit showed great presence of mind on the occasion and ascended the gallows with a firm and steady step, and without any assistance. The body was cut down at 9 o’clock and Calcraft, the executioner, took his departure from Newgate to Horsemonger Lane County Gaol to offer his services for a similar occasion, namely to put in force the sentence of the law against Samuel Quennell for the murder of a shipmate, by shooting him in Kennington Lane. The execution took place on the top of the Prison over the front gates precisely at 10 o’clock. The culprit behaved himself becomingly on so solemn an occasion and ascended the scaffold without assistance. ‘Remarks: this is the first execution of a female that I ever recollect in my time, also the first at Horsemonger Lane, and likewise the first time that two executions took place in the one day, to my recollection.”


[Editor’s note: Calcraft was the London executioner from 1829 to 1874. Horsemonger Lane, now renamed Harper Road, is the site of the Inner London County Court, Borough, London SE1. Samuel Quennell was convicted for the murder of Daniel Fitzgerald. Martha Browning was the first woman executed at the Old Bailey for 14 years.]

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One thought on “Monday 5th January 1846

  1. It
    Odd how impressed Nathaniel was with both prisoners “presence of mind” and the fact that they ascended the gallows/scaffold without any assistance. As it was a Monday, which would have been a work day, it seems that he must have taken some time off to view the hangings. What a busy morning Nathaniel had, followed by an evening of fun reading his previous diary to Mrs Olive and Ann Fox. It does make you wonder if his diary for 1845 contained any ‘censored’ bits as the 1846 one does.

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