Border Life


Jedhart Justice. Hang them first and hold their trial later.

This practice was not quite as barbaric as it would seem today. Almost all of the prisoners who were thus hanged were know be established criminals and had repeatedly offended.
They were executed because of their complete  record and reputation rather than for any one particular offence.

Also, witnesses were much more likely to come forward and give evidence if the knew that the accused was dead.


Prisoners were unpopular with the authorities. They had to be fed and held in a secure place. There were few prisons. Hexham was the first place to have a purpose built jail. A system was devised whereby some prisoners were put on parole. They were instructed to stay in the vicinity and to make themselves available for the next court session. As can be imagined this arrangement was not a success. 

For serious crimes, and many not so serious, hanging was the common form of execution. 
But this, too, had problems for the authorities. Rope was expensive. Drowning cost nothing and it was common to execute offenders in a suitable deep pool in a nearby river.

It was considered improper to hang women. 
They were invariable drowned but in exceptional circumstances they were burnt to death.

Later 'the Maiden' was introduced when females of high rank were beheaded for their crimes.

Hung, Drawn and Quartered. 

The greatest and most grievous punishment used in England was that of the prisoners being taken from the prison to the place of execution upon a hurdle or sled. There they were hanged until they were half dead, and then taken down. After that, their genitals were cut off and they were disembowelled, the parts being thrown into a fire provided near hand and within their own sight. They were then quartered, still alive.


Johnny  Armstrong's Last Goodnight written by Thomas Armstrong  on the eve of his execution for being connected with the killing of a Scottish warden.

Armstrong's Last Goodnight

'This night is my departing night,
    For here nae longer must I stay;
 There's neither friend or foe o' mine
    But wishes me away.

What I have done through lack of wit
    I never, never can recall:
I hope ye're a' my friends as yet
    Good night and joy be with you all!'


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