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Dollywagon
04-20-2008, 11:58 AM
Does anybody out there have any information about Jack Ketch, the English executioner?
I've been trawling the web but seem to be getting conflicting info.
Wiki gives his date of death as 1686, the year after he beheaded Lord Monmouth, and it seems to be of natural causes, but other sites give his demise as being hanged in 1718. They also seem to state he was known as John Price.

Were there two hangmen named John Ketch?
It's driving me bonkers!

KrishnaJewel
04-20-2008, 12:11 PM
Firstly, Jack Ketch wasnt a hangman, he was an executioner - as in AX. Secondly, he was one of the worst executioners around!

According to the History Channel:
Ketch, Jack (died 1686)

English executioner who included Monmouth in 1685 among his victims; his name was once a common nickname for an executioner.

From the Hutchinson Encyclopedia of World History.

Dollywagon
04-20-2008, 12:34 PM
I found that bit on the history channel, Krishna, but in the couple of books I've got, he is down as being primarily a hangman, coming out for beheadings only on 'special occasions!'
Plus on another website, it does gives his death as being 1718 and himself being hanged (as happened with a couple of the hangmen around that period)
Also it gives his pseudonym as being John Price ...

I wonder if the Punch and Judy folk could help because they still use Jack Ketch in their productions today.

KrishnaJewel
04-20-2008, 01:41 PM
Ok I have done some more research and inquiries on and with English gov sites...the difficulty comes because all too often historical and literary figures, images and popular reputations become inter-woven and therefore reality and fiction become hard to distinguish.

Legendary figures such as the late-seventeenth-century hangman Jack Ketch were turned into generic identities, applicable to anyone who served in the office of executioner.

What brought the real Jack Ketch to his end was a horrific murder.

One night he was going over Bunhill Fields in a very drunken state, when he met an old woman who was a watchmans wife named Elizabeth White who sold pastry-ware about the streets. He violently and barbarically assaulted White, almost knocking one of her eyes out of her head, bruising her body badly, breaking one of her legs, and wounding her in the belly.

Two men came along during the assault, hearing the shouts and screams they came to the aide of the woman, which made Price damn them for their impudence. They took him to the watch-house in Old Street, and a couple of watchmen were sent to fetch the old woman. Within a day or two died the woman died from her injuries.

Price was sent to Newgate, being tried and condemned for her death, he was confined in the condemned hold. Rather than laying aside all thoughts of preparing himself for his execution, he appeared to have no remorse for his actions. Instead of repenting, every day he would go up to chapel drunk. Finally day came for his execution, Saturday, the 31st of May, 1718 in Bunhill Fields, where he committed the murder.

####

In regard to Jack Ketch being in the Punch and Judy shows, he isnt anymore except on rare occasion -- at least in the UK.

The basic players – such as the Baby, Mr Punch and Judy – have remained, but some changes have been made.

The Beadle (who dealt with offenders before the invention of the police force) has become the Policeman, the black Servant went away in the 1960s, and the Hangman (usually known as Jack Ketch) began to disappear with the abolition of the death penalty in the UK. The Courtier, a second Police Officer, a pair of Undertakers, an Irishman and a Sailor have also bitten the dust, and, since they played such minor parts in the story, are not missed. The Devil, once an essential character, is now rarely seen, the Crocodile having taken his place.

The Crocodile is a relatively recent arrival, making his debut about a century ago. He may owe his popularity to JM Barrie’s Peter Pan, which sees Captain Hook being followed about by the crocodile who has eaten his hand.

The Clown, usually named Joey, is the only character who is really Mr Punch’s friend, while the Doctor is called to treat Mr Punch after the crocodile attack.

The Ghost still appears. Originally the Ghost of Judy, it now tends to be the ghost of one of the other characters Mr Punch has killed – or any old ghost! Scaramouche, a figure with an extending neck, Hector the hobbyhorse, the Blind Man and Mr Punch’s love interest, Pretty Polly, have mostly disappeared.

The Boxers and Chinese Plate Spinners are modern additions but have no place in the story as such.

Dollywagon
04-20-2008, 01:53 PM
...just noticed you're in Scotland - I'm in Orkney - it's only a spit!

That's what was throwing me, reading all the contradictory information on him. I did find some good sites but they didn't give any dates apart from the one where he beheaded Monmouth.

There is a good P&J site in the UK and although they don't use Jack much anymore they do seem to have a great forum where the members are very knowledgeable about the history - I've sneaked about a couple of times having a nosy in there!

Right, off to get some writing done. Thanks a lot for all your help.

KrishnaJewel
04-20-2008, 03:23 PM
...just noticed you're in Scotland - I'm in Orkney - it's only a spit!

That's what was throwing me, reading all the contradictory information on him. I did find some good sites but they didn't give any dates apart from the one where he beheaded Monmouth.

There is a good P&J site in the UK and although they don't use Jack much anymore they do seem to have a great forum where the members are very knowledgeable about the history - I've sneaked about a couple of times having a nosy in there!

Right, off to get some writing done. Thanks a lot for all your help.

Ooh Ho! An Orkney Lass! I love fellow Orcadian Cameron Stout, he's a doll! :) I'm sure you hear something about him just about every time a Scot finds out you are on Orkney...lol...but you cant blame us, we dont know any other Orcadians other than Cameron and brother Julyan Sinclair (as far was we know)

Obanite here :) - Living and working on India time (gets a tad bamboozling at times since everyone else around me Doesnt...lol) so while its dinner time to everyone else, its almost tea time to me and I havent done a whit of work yet - argh :(

So I am off to try to get something done before I head off to the kitchen...or at least try...*sigh*


Do keep in touch, us Scots have to band together :P

Dollywagon
04-20-2008, 04:18 PM
Oh 'eck ... don't tell anybody ... I'm ... I'm, er, an incomer

Shhshhhshhh