Friday, October 29, 2010


Royal executioner (Rex Features)

Dealing with the surviving signatories to his father's execution, Charles II had six publicly hanged, drawn and quartered, several more just hanged, and those who had fled into exile hunted down and brought back home for more punishment. Little wonder that no-one admitted to actually beheading Charles I.

One likely candidate is Richard Brandon, an East End ragman who 'claimed the headman's axe by inheritance' from his father, Gregory Brandon, former common hangman of London. He once said he was offered £30 in half-crowns to do the job, but even on his deathbed declined to say whether he took it.

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