Ketch, Jack

views updated

Ketch, Jack (1663–86), public executioner. His name became notorious on account of his barbarity at a number of executions, and from that (and perhaps partly also from association with the verb catch) it was given to the hangman in the puppet-play of Punchinello, which was introduced from Italy shortly after his death; finally, Jack Ketch became a generic term for an executioner.