November 7, 1783 — Highwayman John Austin is the last man to be publicly hanged at London’s Tyburn gallows today. The hanging marked the end of Tyburn, a village then in the county of Middlesex, which was the site of executions for nearly 600 years.
Austin was sentenced to death for the murder of labourer John Spicer from Kent. The Recorder of London, James Adair, described it as a “robbery with violence” that involved “cutting and wounding Spicer in a cruel manner.”
On the way to the gallows, Austin was accompanied by two guards and a chaplain. They stopped at two public houses, where drinks were served. Upon arrival at Tyburn, Austin’s cart was positioned under a beam and a noose attached around his head.
Unfortunately, the noose slipped up the back of his neck as the cart was taken from under him. The slackness in the rope prevented rapid asphyxiation, and it was said to have taken 10 minutes for him to choke to death.
The gallows were dismantled after the execution.
Words of Wisdom for November 7, 2016
“Good people, I request your prayers for the salvation of my departing soul. Let my example teach you to shun the bad ways I have followed. Keep good company, and mind the word of God. Lord have mercy on me. Jesus look down with pity on me. Christ have mercy on my poor soul!”
— Last words of Londoner John Austin before he was publicly hanged in 1783