Wednesday, July 25, 2007
40. Executioner: The Chronicles of James Berry, Victorian Hangman - Stewart Evans

Description from Amazon.ca:
James Berry was Britain's hangman from 1884-92. He built his own black museum and kept scrapbooks relating to his activities. His job evidently had its effect on him as, in retirement, Berry became so depressed he tried to commit suicide.

The description on Amazon really isn't much of one. The book recounts Berry's "appointment" as the "official" hangman of England, Ireland, and Scotland during the latter part of the 19th century and is peppered with Berry's own words taken from his diaries. An interesting look into the Victorian era English judicial system. The most interesting part was the execution of William Bury who had strangled his wife to death then stabbed/slashed her body repeatedly before stuffing it into a box. It's quite possible that he was the infamous Jack the Ripper but, as he never confessed, and the possible evidence for his identification is largely circumstantial, it's likely we'll never know. Berry, however, was convinced that Bury was indeed the serial killer who stalked the women of Whitechapel.

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