Albert Pierrepoint Hangman Memorabilia Collection
For Sale: £65,000.00
This exceptional collection includes Plaster of Paris casts of
Pierrepoint's face and both hands. The plaster casts have preserved an
incredible level of detail whereby each facet of his countenance, each
pore and wrinkle, are immortalised.
Also included is a delicate amber and ivory cigar holder which is in very good condition and
measures 3.2" in length. It comes with its original leather, silver
velvet-lined, case, 3.5" long, which has some age marks to its exterior
clasp. The item belonged to Henry A. Pierrepoint.
A fine silver watch chain worn by Albert, his father and his uncle, at
hundreds of executions between 1900 and 1956 is also included in this
superb collection. It measures 17" in length, including the silver bar.
Documents and photographs relating to Pierrepoint's term as executioner
include: the "Memorandum of Conditions to which any Person acting as
Executioner is required to conform"; a letter from the War Office; and
photographs of the Pierrepoint men, Robert Fabian (Fabian of the Yard),
John Ellis, and JRH Robertson.
The letter of thanks from the War Office refers to the case of Golby,
Hensmann and Smith, three men who, in 1950, were charged with murdering
an Egyptian night-watchman. Only Hensmann pulled the trigger, but all
three were sentenced to death. The letter, 8"x6.5", written by
Lieut-Colonel JRH. Robertson, R.E. Assistant Adjutant General, reads:
Dear Mr. Pierrepoint, I wish to convey my sincere thanks for your
willing co-operation in the case of Hensmann, Smith and Golby. I hope
you were well looked after in HELF and led (apart from business) an
No witnesses appeared in their two-day trial. No appeals were allowed
and a plea to King George for clemency was ignored. This treatment
greatly affected the troops serving in the Suez and they rioted. The
executions took place in a secluded area in the desert, away from the
hyped media attention.
Henry Pierrepoint's execution book, 6.75" x 4.5", includes personal
details of those hanged from 1 November 1901 to 14 July 1910. The
prisoner's name, age, height, weight and drop are documented. The sites
of the executions, along with remarks, are recorded. Remarks detailed
the physical frame of the prisoners and calibre of their necks, for
example: very heavy body, ordinary neck; wirey, very thin neck; strong neck, little flabby.
Albert Pierrepoint's large execution ledger, 6"x9.5", is leather bound
and embossed with his name, "A. Pierrepoint". Like his father's
execution log, personal details are included, with some additional notes
of some prisoners, such as : the German, Dutch and Belgium spies; French Canadian; Jew; USA Negro; IRA; Cypriot; German POW; British Soldier; etc.
From 29 December 1932 to 27 July 1955, hundreds of names are recorded.
Among them, some notable names are listed, including Lord Haw-Haw, Ruth
Ellis, Mahmood Hussein Mattan, Elizabeth Volkenrath and F. E. Hensmann.
A note on the last recorded hangings betrays the awareness that the
last ever execution would be of great significance. Rather than have one
man stand as the last executioner, two hangings took place at the same
time and date, so that the legacy would be split in two, perhaps to
divide its potency.
The Pierrepoint collection was last seen at Christies in 1992 where these items sold for some £30,000.
Albert Pierrepoint (1905-1992)
The longest serving and most famous hangman of Britain, Albert
Pierrepoint, was preceded in his time as executioner by his
uncle and his father. After pursuing the Home Office for some time, the
elder Pierrepoint, Henry, was eventually granted the opportunity to
follow his unusual ambition to be an executioner.
After establishing himself as a dedicated and proficient employee,
Henry encouraged his brother Thomas to train as an executioner. This
career path suited Thomas well and he continued working until his
At the tender age of eleven, the young Albert Pierrepoint professed
his desire to follow in his father's footsteps, writing at school:
When I grow up…I should like to be the official executioner
Ten years after Henry's death, Albert trained under his uncle Thomas,
assisting him with hangings throughout the 1930s. In total, the three
men were involved in some 800 hangings. They were respected for their
serious application to the post, administering the death penalty in a
humane and dignified manner.
As Britain's Chief Executioner, Albert Pierrepoint was cautious to
lead a discreet life, as laid out in the "Memorandum of Conditions to
which any Person acting as Executioner is required to conform":
He should avoid attracting public attention in going to or from
the prison; he should clearly understand that his conduct and general
behaviour must be respectable and discreet, not only at the place and
time of execution, but before and subsequently; in particular he must
not give to any person particulars on the subject of his duty for
During his career, Pierrepoint followed this rule exactly. Although
his wife had known of his part-time career for many years, the couple
never discussed it until his return from performing executions in
Gibraltar in 1944. He greatly admired her discretion stating:
I knew that she must have been aware for a very long time of what
I did in the intervals when I told her "I shan't be seeing you for a
couple of days"
There has always been some doubt as to the exact numbers of those
executed by Pierrepoint, especially considering his reluctance to speak
on the topic. His execution ledger provides the definitive answer to
this question. Pierrepoint notes that he was engaged in approximately
606 executions, including some 200 convicted Nazi war criminals after
World War II. Of all the names listed, approximately 173 were reprieved.
Many concentration camp guards and staff were put to death at the
hands on Pierrepoint, including the 'Beast of Belsen', Josef Kramer,
convicted after the Belsen Trial in 1945. At Hamelin Prison, the guilty
met their fate: women were hanged individually, while the men were
executed in pairs, all on the same day. Elisabeth Volkenrath, the
youngest guard convicted for crimes at Bergen-Belsen and Auschwitz, was
one of the three women executed.
Likewise, notorious traitors John Amery and 'Lord Haw-Haw', William
Joyce, met their end under Pierrepoint's gaze. Joyce was a fascist
politician, Nazi propaganda broadcaster and writer who distributed
propaganda leaflets to British prisoners of war. The term 'Lord Haw-Haw'
was the nickname for pro-fascist English-speaking broadcasters from
1939, but by 1945 it came to denote Joyce exclusively.
In adulthood, Amery began to chase pro-fascist ideals and formed a
British Branch of the SS, gaining short-term support from the Germans.
Only after his execution was it revealed that his father, Sir Leopold
Amery, was Jewish and had helped create the Balfour Treaty that
authorised the founding of the Jewish State in Palestine.
Pierrepoint conducted the last execution in the Republic of Ireland
and that of the last woman to be hanged in Britain, Ruth Ellis. At only
28, the beautiful model provoked a media frenzy and 500,000 members of
the public signed a petition for clemency.
The innocent too, like Derek Bentley, Mahmood Mattan and Timothy John
Evans, were executed by Pierrepoint (all three were posthumously
Pierrepoint never questioned his instructions while employed, but he
believed that the punishment did not deter others from serious crime. In
his autobiography he wrote:
The fruit of my experience has this bitter after-taste: that I do
not now believe that any of the hundreds of executions I carried out
has in any way acted as a deterrent against future murder. Capital
punishment, in my view, achieved nothing except revenge
There is some contention as to the exact reasons for Pierrepoint's
resignation in 1956. The most likely impetus behind this decision is
that when he travelled to Manchester to perform an execution, a reprieve
was granted, and he was not paid in full, even though he had incurred
Pierrepoint died in July of 1992, aged 87. His legacy has influenced
modern culture, most notably a 2005 film release based on his life and
centred on the execution of Ruth Ellis.
This item qualifies for our layaway plan
Stock Status:In Stock
Product Code: PT125