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gibbeting

gibbeting was the exhibiting of the corpses of executed criminals in public. It was normally reserved for criminals convicted of unusually heinous crimes, or others of whom the authorities wished to make examples. The bodies were hung either in a much frequented location or at the place where the crime was committed. They were tarred, left to rot, suspended from a pole, and held together by iron hoops. The first definite case of gibbeting involved a Scot executed in London in 1306 in Edward I's reign. In 1752, after a crime wave, the practice was given statutory authority by 25 George III c. 37, which declared the need for ‘some further terror’. In the 19th. cent. there was increasing distaste for the carnival atmosphere which accompanied some gibbeting, and the last occasion was of a murderer named James Cook in 1832, who had killed a merchant and cut up the body for burning. Gibbeted at Leicester, Cook's body was removed in a few days after local protests. A bill to abolish the practice, 4 & 5 William IV c. 26, was carried by William Ewart, MP.

J. A. Sharpe

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